Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fourplay (1991)


The debut album from a four man, smooth jazz supergroup: Bob James - keyboards, Lee Ritenour - guitars, Nathan East - bass, and Harvey Mason, drums.  Scott Yanow over at allmusic.com nails it:
The music sounds more or less like a Bob James small-group date with Ritenour as a major soloist. The style is between jazz, R&B, and pop with an emphasis on lightweight originals, soulful and moderately funky rhythms, and predictable radio-friendly music. Nothing unexpected occurs, but fans of James and Ritenour should enjoy both this CD and Fourplay in general.
Then he gives it only 2 stars out of five which I think is a little low, although it doesn't live up to its pedigree.  With a rhythm section like East and Mason, I was expecting (hoping for) something with a little more energy.  Slightly dated, it sounds like most smooth jazz from the time and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  But I'm left wondering what it would have sounded like with a more restrained keyboard player that didn't think that every second of every track should have some sort of keyboard or, most of the time, multiple overdubbed keyboards.  The best snarky critique about this release came from People magazine (of all places): "This Fourplay is unconsummated."  I'll let that be the last word.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #97
Peak on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #16

Tracks:  I like 101 Eastbound, Max-O-Man, and Wish You Were Here.  We're treated to El DeBarge singing on a cover of Marvin Gaye's After The Dance and his voice works fine with the group, its just that a lone vocal track is out of place here and smacks of commercialism (I'll place blame with the label, not the band).  I can't argue with the results, however, as that song reached #2 on the R&B singles chart in late '91.  The rest of the tracks are fine for background music.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None.  I also had a copy of the group's 1995 album Elixir at one time, but that one's gotten lost or gifted or sold at some point over the last 20 years.  

1 comment:

  1. In the spirit of Jazz Appreciation Month, I will be giving this one a spin.

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