Friday Favorites 12/27/2013

fourplayI was looking through my pile of CDs the other day … the musical, not the banking kind.  I only wish I had a pile of bank CDs to look through.  By now, I’ve ripped most of my CD music to mp3 files, so the CDs languish in a (large) disorganized pile in our entertainment center.  But I’d heard an old friend on Sirius XM and when I looked for it among the mp3s on my smartphone, it wasn’t there.  The tune was RoboBop, a funky fusion number by the group, Fourplay, and I found it on the CD, Yes Please (which has since been ripped to my smartphone).

I discovered something besides Yes Please in our entertainment center … I own more CDs by Fourplay than any other jazz ensemble.  So I suppose they are entitled to a turn as Older Eyes’ Friday Favorite.  Do you think they’ll notice?

Fourplay was formed in 1991 by keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Lee Ritenour, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason.  If you are a jazz fan, you know that James and Ritenour are well-known solo artists in their own right.   Their first recording, Fourplay, sold over a million copies and went to number one on the contemporary jazz charts, as did five more of the group’s 12 recordings.  In 1997, Ritenour left the group and was replaced by another jazz guitar superstar, Larry Carlton and in 2010, Carlton was replaced by Chuck Loeb.   In spite of the relative stardom of Fourplay’s keyboardist, Bob James, and the three well-known guitarists, the group’s features all four members equally, producing a true ensemble sound.  As their website says, Fourplay has enjoyed consistent artistic and commercial success by grafting elements of R&B, pop and a variety of other sounds to their unwavering jazzpeeve foundations.  Their albums usually feature one or two guest vocalists (which have included Micheal McDonald and Phil Collins, among others).  I have to admit, vocal numbers on instrumental jazz albums are a pet peeve of mine but Fourplay is good enough to avoid an Older Eyes fast forward most of the time.

This video features a nice live performance of Galaxia by the Larry Carleton version of the group that captures the flavor of Fourplay’s music, as well as their joy in playing it.

If you enjoy Galaxia, you can sample more music by Fourplay … and its members … on their website, here.

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