Here’s a review I wrote of the Restless release by contemporary jazz legend Bob James in spring 1994. The album was released Feb. 8 of that year.
The review holds up, but after 25 years the track I listen to most is “Under Me” with its driving dance beat, sweet Luther Vandross vocal and Michael Brecker playing.
After two albums with Fourplay, a reunion with Earl Klugh, and working on George Benson’s Love Remembers release, Bob James still has found time to put out a solo album. His new Restless is the first solo release since Grand Piano Canyon over four years ago. The title is reflective of how James is feeling. “I’ve been more than ever restless to explore new musical adventures and to interact with talented musicians who present new challenges,” James says.
James does run the gamut with ten songs of varying styles. The title track sounds like something from the Double Vision collaboration between him and David Sanborn in the mid-80’s. The saxophonist, newcomer Andy Snitzer, sounds almost identical to Sanborn. James also features two special vocals. One is a duet with his daughter, Hilary, entitled “Storm Warning.” James says the song is the “most deeply personal aspect of this album for me.” It is also a sneak preview of a project that the father-daughter team is releasing later this year. The other vocal, the upbeat “Under Me,” is possibly the most sensual song James has ever done. The vocals are handled by Luther Vandross, Lisa Fischer, and Hilary James. An other style featured more than once on Restless is straightforward jazz. “Back To Bali,” and “Into The Light” both feature Ron Carter on bass and James in a jazz mood. “Serenissima” features James accompanied only by Fareed Haque on guitar.
Restless was produced by Michael Colina, no stranger to the contemporary jazz scene. Colina brings out the best in James with the different styles. Saxophonist Michael Brecker plays on several cuts and Fourplay’s Nathan East and Harvey Mason both put in appearances. But it is definitely a Bob James record, with James composing nearly all of the tracks on the album.
Seeing the gathering of living presidents at the George H.W. Bush funeral today made me think of the inauguration of Bill Clinton. That monster gathering of super-saxmen: Sanborn, Brecker, Mulligan, Washington, Jr., Albright, G, Whalum…
I’ve posted over 500 tweets of contemporary jazz news, release dates, and site information on Twitter in the last few months. It’s how I communicate quick contemporary jazz items of interest. In today’s quick-moving world, this is how I get most of my information – through brief, one-sentence notifications. Later, I can go back and read more about something or compose a blog post. Follow my tomorrowjazz tweets on Twitter!
I keep a list of my most recent tweets here on the site, but here are some items you might have missed.
Smooth jazz takes another blow as The Weather Channel replaces it with classic rock for Weather on the 8’s.
Modern day saxophone giant died today of leukemia. I’ve posted about his battle with myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer in which the bone marrow stops producing enough healthy blood cells. The disease, known as MDS, often progresses to leukemia. His call for a donor led me to learn about bone marrow donation and register with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) in case I could be of help to him or anyone else.
I loved Michael’s powerful sound. The man could burn on the sax like few I’ve heard. I was impressed to read that he finished one last recording (maybe playing EWI if I remember the JazzTimes article from a few months ago correctly) two weeks ago. It’s a testament to not only the power of his sound but of his will as well. Rest in peace, Michael. My thoughts are with his brother Randy, his wife Susan, and the rest of his family.