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Bob James Biography
In a career that spans five decades, Bob James has produced an impressive body of work. Over 30 solo albums and collaborations have resulted in 15 Grammy nominations plus innumerable awards, beginning in 1962 at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival and most recently with the George Benson Lifetime Achievement Award in April of 2006. In between there has been Jazz Artist of the Year, Jazz Producer of the Decade, #1 Jazz radio hits and five #1 tracks on the Billboard Jazz Charts. The first four albums were produced by Creed Taylor on his CTI label. At CBS another 14 solo albums were released in the 1970's and 1980's before Bob's move to Warner Bros. There, while Vice President of A&R, ten more titles were produced and released by James in the 80's, 90's and into the 21st century. Recent titles include ‘Take It From the Top' (2004) a trio album, ‘Urban Flamingo,' a contemporary jazz project (2006) and ‘Angels of Shanghai,' (2007) – all on Koch Records.
‘One On One' with Bob James and Earl Klugh as well as ‘Double Vision' with Bob James and David Sanborn won the Grammy Award and sold in excess of one million copies each. James composed the theme song for the television series ‘Taxi' as well as all original music for the show's entire run. ‘Angela (Theme from ‘Taxi')' is recognized by ASCAP as one of the top ten series themes in TV history. In addition to jazz recording, James has composed for Broadway ( ‘Hapgood' by Tom Stoppard, directed by Jack O'Brien & ‘Hamlet' directed by Kevin Kline among the many plays).
Since Bob founded the group in 1991, Fourplay has recorded ten albums of its own, sold millions of copies, toured the world and been nominated in 2004 for a Grammy for their recording ‘Journey.' The group's tenth ( ‘X' ) album, released in August 2006, was also a Grammy nominee.
An unexpected but very successful component of James' career is his popularity with the industry's top rappers. Samples of his 1970's and 1980's compositions and recordings have been used by rap artists as early as Grandmaster Flash and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince on to Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Warren G and Jamie Foxx. In 2007 alone so far, Jay-Z, Guru, Consequence and Busta Rhymes have used his samples. The next project for James is his own hip-hop trio featuring Dave McMurray and DJ Rob Swift – the group is calling itself BJ Rob McSwift. These tracks were recently debuted at the Tokyo Jazz Festival and the Blue Notes in Japan in September of 2007.
In the past several years, Bob has spent many months in the Far East producing a new project, ‘Angels of Shanghai' a true ‘east meets west' project – five young musicians from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music playing ancient Chinese instruments together with James Genus and Nathan East on bass, Harvey Mason on drums and, of course, Bob James on keyboards. Released first in both Korea and Japan, the musicians performed at the Bangkok Jazz Festival in December 2005, Java Jazz Festival 2006 and also touring Korea and Japan. Koch Records released the CD April 10, 2007 in the U.S. & Canada. The group made its U.S. debut in James' hometown of Traverse City, Michigan on April 28 which began a six-city tour ending in New York.
Bob James 2006 CD, ‘Urban Flamingo,' features his Detroit based band of Al Turner on bass, Ron Otis on drums, Perry Hughes and Wayne Gerard on guitars and David McMurray on sax. Detroit is home to all these musicians and the album was recorded there. The group toured extensively in 2005 2006 in the northeast and have just returned from a successful tour in Japan. Next up for the guys, Bob, Al Turner, Ron Otis and Dave McMurray will return to Jazz Alley in Seattle, November 8-11 th . the show will feature music from ‘Urban Flamingo' as well as new material being worked on for the next Bob James release, due in 2008.