Bob James – 1975 – Two
A monster – and quite possibly one of the greatest Fender Rhodes albums of all time! Bob James is really at the height of his powers here – stepping out with a sound that’s a lot smoother than some of his earlier work, yet in a groove that’s never too slick or too overproduced – as happened with some of his later records on the Tappan Zee imprint.
Here, James is still a master of space and sound – using the Fender Rhodes with bell-like tones to craft some key grooves that are still having an amazing impact today, more than 30 years after the album was initially recorded! There’s a darkness here that we totally love – and tracks include the legendary “Take Me To The Mardi Gras“, which has been sampled by Run DMC and loads of others.
A1 Take Me to the Mardi Gras 5:50
A2 I Feel a Song (In My Heart) 5:26
A3 The Golden Apple 7:20
B1 Farandole (L’Arlesienne Suite #2) 8:24
B2 You’re Right as Rain 5:29
B3 Dream Journey 5:57
I was just talking on the phone to a very good friend of mine as we recall the music that we both loved in the ’70s and ’80s and still enjoy listening to this day. Bob James, whom we both watched at a live concert years ago, was one of the subjects of our conversation, and we both agreed that of all Bob James’ recordings, “Bob James Two” is our top favorite. Likewise, we both agreed to JAZZIZ Magazine’s 1997 Readers’ Poll which voted Mr. James as the #1 Best Acoustic Pianist and #1 Best Jazz Composer. Our phone conversation prompted me to write this review.
I have loved the music of Mr. James ever since I heard the albums he collaborated with a gifted guitarist, Earl Klugh, on “One On One” and a follow-up “Two Of A Kind,” which my friend and I both own in LP formats. This wonderful CD consists of six tracks (I wish there were more) superbly arranged and conducted by the very talented Mr. James himself, who also plays electric piano and organ magnificently.
The opening and one of the best tracks, “TAKE ME TO THE MARDI GRAS” was composed by another famous artist, Paul Simon, and it was a jazz staple in the ’70s/’80s and everyone I know loves this dynamic tune. The mixed ensemble of various instruments blended perfectly in harmony to produce this awesome recording. I especially like the solo clarinet by Eddie Daniels as well as Eric Gale on guitar.
“I FEEL A SONG IN MY HEART” is a standout! This song has straight-to-the-point lyrics and sung by one of the finest divas in the jazz scene and my favorite jazz vocalist, Patti Austin. Hers is a kind of voice that is really meant to sing jazz/blues songs. Her interpretation is heartfelt and moving, not to mention the flawless arrangement. Some of my favorite songs that she recorded are “How Do You Keep The Music Playing,” “Say You Love Me” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”
Another highlight to me is the track that I never get tired listening to all these years…. “YOU’RE AS RIGHT AS RAIN“, which was originally recorded by the Stylistics in the ’70s. Remember the famous and best-loved Rhythm & Blues group back then? Their most notable songs are “You’ll Never Get To Heaven If You Break My Heart,” “I’m Stone In Love With You,” “Stop Look And Listen To Your Heart” and “You Are Everything.”
The track that has a classical touch is “Farandole:”L’ Arlesienne Suite No. 2.” It was arranged and adapted from the great master Georges Bizet’s composition. It features a fine jazz musician, Hubert Laws, on flute. The rest of the tracks are Bob James’ original compositions “The Golden Apple” and a very remarkable tune, “Dream Journey“.
Superb recording! Will never get tired listening to it especially “I Feel A Song In My Heart“.