Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bob James - 1976 - Three

Bob James 

01. One Mint Julep 9:04
02. Women Of Ireland 8:00
03. Westchester Lady 7:23
04. Storm King 6:33
05. Jamaica Farewell 5:21

Bass – Gary King (tracks: A1, A2, B3)
Bass Trombone – Dave Taylor
Bass Trombone, Tuba – Dave Bargeron
Cello – Alan Shulman, Charles McCracken
Drums – Harvey Mason (tracks: A2 to B3)
Flute – Hubert Laws, Jerry Dodgion
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Eddie Daniels
Guitar – Eric Gale (tracks: A2 to B2), Hugh McCracken (tracks: A2 to B2)
Harp – Gloria Agostini
Keyboards – Bob James
Percussion – Ralph MacDonald
Tenor Saxophone, Tin Whistle – Grover Washington, Jr.
Trombone – Wayne Andre
Trumpet – John Frosk, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff, Marvin Stamm
Viola – Al Brown, Manny Vardi
Violin – David Nadien, Emanuel Green, Frederick Buldrini, Harold Kohon, Harry Cykman, Lewis Eley, Matthew Raimondi, Max Ellen

Bob James himself on Three:

I was three years into a solo recording career with CTI at the time, and things were going good. The first two records sold well and I felt like my career was really solid by this time. But I wasn’t really sure where I was headed on this album. Once again, I had no idea of what would become of anything I made. Especially having been in the instrumental jazz field for a while at this point, I was wondering what else I could do. The meat of this album is in the parts where a lot of improvising took place. But with this, I didn’t know what was going to stick with the public. As a musician, improvisation is great; but the public doesn’t care, they just want good tunes. [laughs] This album has some of my favorite moments, but as far as the public was concerned, I think it fell a bit short of what I would’ve liked. And with “Westchester Lady,” it wasn’t until years later that people even wanted it hear it on the radio. This album remains a sentimental one because of the time it was recorded. The music industry was going through a lot of changes. This didn’t sell as well as the two previous LPs, but I’m still proud of it. There’s a certain element of randomness to this LP, which I like.

By Three, Bob James -- the pianist, composer, and arranger -- was deep into jazz-funk. The five tracks here reflect his obsession with hard, danceable grooves that take as much from the soul-jazz book as they do his years with CTI. Using many of the same session players he bonded with at his former label -- including Eric Gale, Hugh McCracken, Hubert Laws, Will Lee, and Harvey Mason -- and a large host of stellar horn players (among them Lew Soloff and Jon Faddis), James offers five selections of simple but fun jazz-pop. On "One Mint Julep," Grover Washington's tenor goes head to head with James' Rhodes and synths. "Women of Ireland" is a solid take on the ballad with fine guitar work from Gale as a contrast to the watershed of strings. The laid-back, space groove contains another killer solo by Washington, while "Westchester Lady" borders on disco without ever falling headlong into it. The closer, "Jamaica Farewell," is another shimmering ballad with a whistle solo by Washington playing the melody. The faux-reggae rhythm and slippery bassline are the only things that keep it from slipping into a lightweight ether. Although the sound here is somewhat dated, the feel is timeless.

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