World of Slick Music
Hi folks and happy new year 2018!
Time for another edition of this blog called world of slick music. A little blog dedicated to all kind of, in my opinion, slick music with all kind of artists.
I was told by the site host wordpress.com that it’s the 3 year anniversary of this blog! So happy 3 year blog birthday to me! Best way to celebrate it is to do a new edition.
Since it’s the first editon of the year let’s have a little look on what happened last year. We lost some guys related to this blog unfortunately.
On February 12 we lost one of the most unique voices that has ever existed the one and only Al Jarreau. I wrote about Al in 2015.
The second person to leave us was guitarist Chuck Loeb, a guy i actually haven’t written about but he was the latest guitarist in today’s artist.
The third and last person to leave us was guitarist and cofounder/second half of Steely Dan Walter Becker. He passed away September 3.
R.I.P. guys your legacy will forever remain and be with us.
Photo cred: ohridskoleto.com.mk
The last/latest line up of today’s artist Fourplay.
Left to right: Bob James (Keyboards), Nathan East (Bass, Vocals), Chuck Loeb (Guitar, R.I.P.), Harvey Mason (Drums)
Now let’s focus on 2018 and today’s artist, photo above, which i should have written about for 6 months ago. Shame on me.
Why’s that you might wonder, do they only do like songs about summer, beach, paradise?
They might have some songs on that theme in one way or another but the main reason i’ve already mentioned, the passing of their guitarist Chuck Loeb.
Just beacuse it’s a new year it doesn’t mean i’ve changed the way i used to do this meaning let’s go back to the very beginning.
Fourplay actually started out the same way as another jazz/fusion band i’ve written about called Yellowjackets. In this case keyboardist Bob James had hired Nathan, Lee and Harvey for some sessions. He was recording an album called Grand Piano Canyon, picture below.
During the sessions the four of them realized that it was such a thrill and great chemistry to play together so they decided to do it in a more regulary way so to speak. This was told by bassist Nathan East to the music site allmusic.com when he was speaking with them about his first solo release.
Photo cred: microsoft.com
Fourplay first line up early ’90s left to right: Lee Ritenour (guitar), Harvey Mason, Bob James, Nathan East.
These 4 guys were by far no beginners when they started this group. Bob, Harvey and Lee had all been doing albums and sessions since the ’70s so they go way back. Especially Lee and Harvey had been working together since the ’70s when formost Harvey had been drummer on several Lee albums. Beside Fourplay they have continued doing albums of their own or as guest artists or as session players. Nathan has been Eric Clapton’s sidekick since the ’80s. Anyway they got a recored deal with Warner and in 1991 their first self titled album, see picture below, was released. So how did they sound back then?
They found their style blending elements of jazz, pop, R&B yet having a slick sound perhaps to attract a bigger mainstream audience. Their debut album sold over 1 million copies and remained #1 at the Billboard contemporary jazz charts for 33 weeks. That’s quite an debut i’d say!
Next album Between the sheets came in 1993 and it did also reached #1 on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart sold gold and received a Grammy nomination. The third album Elixir became a success just like the previously ones. It reached #1 and remained on the chart for more than 90 weeks. That’s almost 2 years!
After this album Lee felt he had done his within the band and left sometime in the mid ’90s. His replacer was not a rookie so to speak his name is Larry Carlton and in jazz/smooth jazzz/fusion circles he is a very highly respected musician with a long career of his own. He started out way back in 1968. In 1995 he and Lee did an album together released on GRP records and it’s simply called Larry & Lee just a little side note.
Photo cred: Jazz Musician Database – All About Jazz
Left to right: Nathan, Bob, Harvey and Larry Carlton
The first album featuring Larry came in 1998 and with the very creative title 4. The year after their christmas album was released called Snowbound and it contains some classic/traditional American christmas songs still with their typical slick sound. Although the title song is written by Donald Fagen and can be heard on his Kamakirirad album from 1993. There’s also a very beautiful version of the old classic Christian hymn Amazing Grace. Great playing from Larry on that one. Larry remained within Fourplay until 2010 when Chuck Loeb took over. Just like the ones before him he was an established solo artist.
His first album as a member was Let’s Touch the Sky and before his passing he was featured on another 2 albums. The last one with Chuck was called Silver which was referring to the 25th anniversary of Fourplay. On this album both Lee and Larry was featured.
Photo cred: Youtube
All 6 members gathered together and left to right: Nathan, Larry, Bob, Chuck, Lee and Harvey.
Over the years they have had several guest apperances on their albums or shows. Guys like Anita Baker, Phillip Bailey (lead singer EWF), Chaka Khan, Michael McDonald, Esperanza Spalding (singer, bassist and a huge star in contemporary jazz today), Ruben Studdard (contemporary gospel singer), Kenny Mason & The Voices of Praise Choir, Phil Perry (contemporary R&B/gospel singer) and Japanese singer Seiko Matsuda Sorry for all the name dropping here.
As i mentioned in the begining Chuck Loeb passed away last year and due to that the other 3 decided to take a break during 2018. Chuck was ill during the entire spring/summer and was unable to perform. His standin was actually not another guitarist but saxman Kirk Whalum. Although on April 7 and 8 there will be 2 like memorial concerts for Chuck. Done enough name dropping already so if you’re interested check out the band’s official webpage http://www.fourplayjazz.com/
Ok time for the music then and the song i’ve chosen is taken from their first album and it’s called 101 Eastbound and it’s very slick!
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