Two-time Grammy winner Bob James might be unequivocally linked to jazz and pop culture, but the acclaimed jazz keyboardist says his greatest achievements all came by surprise.
“In this world, you never know where nice things are going to come from,” James says. “That’s one of the most fortunate things about being in the music business.”
, below are a few examples of unexpected highs across his versatile career.
He Is a Founding Member of
The creation of this jazz supergroup happened serendipitously in the early ‘90s, when James recruited fellow musicians drummer Harvey Mason, guitarist Lee Ritenour and bassist Nathan East to collaborate on a recording project.
The foursome hit it off so quickly, James approached Warner Bros. Records about launching a new group. This would lead to the group becoming a fixture of jazz known for its unrivaled musicianship, with the artists touring and recording together for decades (with some members changing along the way).
And how did they decide on the name, Fourplay?
“We knew it was good to grab people’s attention,” James says. “We made sure to include a ‘u,’ for it to be about four musicians playing music, but our listeners can interpret it any way they like.”
That said — “it did establish a romantic theme,” James concedes, adding that Fourplay’s music is very often romantic. “We’ve heard many stories of people who report back to us that their family has been added to, as a result of our music.”
He Wrote the Theme Song for Emmy-Winning Sitcom “Taxi”
While James hadn’t ever intended to expand into television, a producer for “Taxi” reached out to James early in the show’s development. The producer, a huge fan of James’, asked him to write a variety of music demos to incorporate into the show, which James continued to do throughout its five-season run.
“I treated the whole series as if I were making a record album,” he remembers. “I’d go into the studio, write some new tunes and give them as many moods as I could – slow, fast, happy, blues, whatever.”
One of these pieces, written for a scene with a character named Angela, he submitted with the idea it would simply be background music.
“What I didn’t know at the time was the producers had started shooting the show’s opening sequence and it was a very mellow, low-key attitude, and this mellow piece I’d written hit that mood,” James says. “I’d had no concept it would end up as the main theme.”
He Has Toured the World, Written for Broadway and Collaborated with Top Names Like
James prides himself on never slowing down, as well as pursuing a wide variety of projects.
His diverse work has not only included composing the music for Broadway play “Impressionism,” but he has repeatedly toured the world, including performing at the prestigious Seongnam Art Center in Seoul, Korea.
“I believe if I’d specialized too much, I’d have missed out on a lot of things,” he says.
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