The Pace Report: “The Producing Arranger, The Arranging Producer” The Bob James Interview

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Brian Pace
Published at : 06 Nov 2020
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Two-time Grammy Award winning pianist, composer, arranger, and producer Bob James has been a game changer in the record business from the jump. Bob has worn so many shoes throughout his career
he's never one to slow down. He's one of the co-founding members of Fourplay, a musical contemporary group that has been together for some 20 plus years featuring Harvey Mason on drums, Nathan East on bass and the late Chuck Loeb on guitar. This powerhouse unit has sold millions of records and continues to pack out music arenas all over the world. Although Bob hasn't released a solo project in close to a decade, he always on the go touring and collaborating with other musicians.

Bob has recorded and toured with the likes of David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Keiko Matsui, and Kirk Whalum. But he also got his start backing legendary vocalist Sarah Vaughan. He was discovered by record producer and arranger Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in which he and Henry Mancini were the judges. Quincy ended up signing him and producing Bob's first record titled "Bold Conceptions" released on Mercury Records in 1963. He then called on Bob again to play on session work for his solo recordings including the iconic "Walking In Space" recording featuring other notable musicians like Valerie Simpson, Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Bernard Purdie, and Grady Tate. It was from that session that opened the door to be the staff arranger and producer for the new CTI Records, headed by producer Creed Taylor.

From 1969 through 1977 Bob arranged, composed and played on iconic recordings by Milt Jackson, Grover Washington Jr., Hubert Laws, Airto, Deodato, Esther Phillips and Hank Crawford. In 1974 Bob recorded his debut album on CTI and has been a success as a solo artist ever since.

Bob's recordings are the most sampled in hip-hop music and his beats and hooks have been used by legendary rap groups and emcees like Arrested Development, RUN-DMC, Warren G, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, DJ Jazzy Jeff, 9th Wonder, T La Rock, and The Rza.

I had a chance to sit down with Bob to talk about what the role of a producer and arranger are, his first keyboard he played on, reflections of Creed Taylor, and how Classical music plays an important part in his composing and playing.

For more info on Bob's upcoming shows or to order his music, please visit him online at bobjames.com or Facebook.com/bobjamesjazz
Bob JamesThe Bob James Trio`The Pace Report

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