Bob James

The infectiously slick, melodic grooves of pianist Bob James were a staple of the smooth jazz scene in the 1970s and later became one of the strutting sounds of early hip-hop when his work was sampled by Run DMC, NWA and Wu-Tang Clan. A natural musician with perfect pitch, he started playing at the age of four and grew up performing at state fairs and local dances, before studying at the University of Michigan and Berklee College of Music, where he fell into the world of free jazz. He was discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1962 and signed to Mercury Records for his debut album 'Bold Conceptions', which showcased a loose, experimental style. He honed his reputation by working in New York as a studio musician and arranger for the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker, Milt Jackson and Grover Washington Jr., but he really made his name in the the mid-1970s with soulful, funky albums 'One', 'Two' and 'Three' and founded his own label called Tappan Zee. His track 'Angela' became the iconic soundtrack to the hugely popular sitcom 'Taxi' and he won Grammy Awards in 1981 for 'One On One', his collaboration with guitarist Earl Klugh, and in 1987 with saxophonist David Sanborn for 'Double Vision'. He also tried his hand at classical music on the album 'Rameau'. Towards the end of the decade his music started becoming synonymous in hip-hop, with his tracks 'Nautilus' and 'Take Me to the Mardi Gras' being widely used by a host of artists and his song 'Sign of the Times' sampled by Warren G on his US number two hit 'Regulate' in 1994. In the 1990s James started leading the jazz quartet Fourplay, but continued releasing acclaimed solo albums such as 'Grand Piano Canyon', 'Playin' Hooky' and 'Take It from the Top', and more recently worked with flutist Nancy Stagnitta on 'In the Chapel in the Moonlight' in 2017.

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Stations Featuring Bob James

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