VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
04 NOV 08 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Celebrating 18 years since their self-titled debut captured the instrumental world by storm, sold over a million copies and stayed at #1 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart for 33 weeks, Fourplay brings a ton of exciting history to Heads Up with its aptly-titled debut Energy.
The all-star gathering of keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason and Larry Carlton, who replaced original guitarist Lee Ritenour in 1998, has now hit #1 on that chart seven times. As evidence of their vast crossover groove appeal, they have consistently scored on the R&B/Hip-Hop album charts as well. When they received a Congressional Record from Congress in 2007 -- the House of Representatives recognized them as distinguished members of the music industry -- they became the only group in history to be so recognized.
The energy flows anew with a coolly soulful mix of R&B, pop and African flavors atop their jazz foundations. The catchy, easy flowing opener "Fortune Teller" is the track catching fire at smooth jazz radio, but deeper in are truer artistic treasures like the inspirational world music anthem "Cape Town," which features East's dreamy vocals and chronicles the journey of East family members traveling to South Africa two generations ago to do missionary work. Similarly exotic and seductive are "Argentina" and the hypnotic Carlton-driven "Comfort Zone." Another can't miss tune is the romantic "Prelude For Lovers," a co-write by James' daughter Hilary that features the soothing vocals of young breakout labelmate singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding.