Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Bob James Remastered Releases: The Genie, 12, Foxie


On The Genie, Bob James features his great compositions that were used as incidental and theme music for the long-running television series, Taxi. James is joined here by a tremendous cast of musicians. In addition to "Angela," Taxi's mellow and very recognizable main theme and also a highlight of James' Touchdown, James and his comrades jam on several great tracks. Since so many of the tunes were only used as snippets on the television series, only the most diehard Taxi fans would recognize them from the show. Familiar or not, however, these cuts carry with them the feeling of background music, as opposed to being a typical James recording. Most noteworthy are "Brooklyn Heights Boogie," "The Genie" and "Groove for Julie." Perfect driving music. All tracks have been digitally remastered. ~ CD Universe


12 is of historic value because it introduced saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who was still a year away from debuting as a leader with 1985's Floppy Disk. One of the more noteworthy albums that Bob James came out with in the '80s, 12 finds him featuring the up-and-coming Whalum on three selections: the funky "No Pay, No Play," the pensive "Midnight" and Whalum's own "Ruby, Ruby, Ruby" (a slightly Spyro Gyra-ish number). While those selections are enjoyable, the strongest tune on the CD is James' haunting, Chick Corea-influenced "Legacy." Like most of James' projects, 12 suffers from excessive producing and arranging. But despite that shortcoming, it's certainly more creative than knee-jerk, by-the-book releases like Heads, Lucky Seven, Sign of the Times and Touchdown. ~ Alex Henderson All tracks have been digitally remastered.


Because so many of Bob James' albums have been devoid of integrity and epitomized musical prostitution at its most shameless, quite a few people in the jazz world (both fusionists and hard boppers) dismiss everything he's done since 1974. But it's best to judge the keyboardist on an album-by-album basis and not lump all of his releases together. Not a gem but certainly superior to Touchdown or Sign of the Times, Foxie has its moments. Some of the pop-jazz material is decent, including the delicate "Miranda," the reggae-influenced "Calaban," and the relaxed "Fireball." The playful "Zebra Man" employs David Sanborn on soprano sax; regrettably, he simply meanders and doesn't get a chance to stretch. None of the songs are brilliant, but with the exception of "Marco Polo," none of them are schlocky either. ~ Alex Henderson.  All tracks have been digitally remastered.

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