Search - Bob James :: Take It From the Top

Take It From the Top
Bob James
Take It From the Top
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1

Pianist/composer Bob James made his fame as top-selling smooth jazz pioneer and his theme song to the TV show Taxi is one of the most familiar melodies in syndication. But his roots are in straight-ahead jazz. On this CD w...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Bob James
Title: Take It From the Top
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Koch Records
Release Date: 2/24/2004
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Smooth Jazz, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 099923951926, 766482706945

Pianist/composer Bob James made his fame as top-selling smooth jazz pioneer and his theme song to the TV show Taxi is one of the most familiar melodies in syndication. But his roots are in straight-ahead jazz. On this CD with bassist James Genus and drummer Billy Kilson, James pays tribute to his piano heroes and drops some surprises into the mix. His treatment of Nat "King" Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right," is driven by hip-hop rimshots, and Mal Waldron's classic ballad "Soul Eyes" is syncopated with a Latin lilt. James's most impressive act of syncopated subversion is his take on the Petula Clark hit "Downtown." Somehow Bob James manages to keep it smooth and jazzy. --Eugene Holley, Jr.

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CD Reviews

Bob James, ridin' high
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 03/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sometimes the prodigiously talented have a harder time making a lasting impression in the jazz world than those below their talent level who have a more singular vision. Bob James strikes me as such a player. To my reckoning, he has made only three truly great records among the many he has recorded: the two with Earl Klugh, One on One and Two of a Kind (why Columbia has never issued these two short and aurally compatible records as one disc can only be attributed to corporate greed), and this one. The problem? He's too glib, too capable of playing with absolute proficiency in any and every style be it pop, blues, fusion, acoustic jazz, funk, and third stream. But not usually with riveting and spectacular singularity. Consequently he typically finds himself in the awkward category of jack of all trades and master of none. Whereas players like Mal Waldron or Don Pullen or Ahmad Jamal or Abdullah Ibrahim, who define a particular style and pretty much stick with it their entire career, often end up making a more lasting contribution. Here, he confines his playing to the relatively restricted tonal and dynamic configuration of the acoustic piano trio, playing a kind of tribute program in which he pays honor to some of his main influences: Red Garland, Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould, Ahmad Jamal, Nat King Cole, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, John Lewis, and Mal Waldron. One could do worse than have these masters as their mentors! The thing that lifts this disc out of the pedestrian category of simply "tribute disc" into the category of essential piano trio music is that James, nearer the end of his career (one supposes) than its beginning, has the distance and perspective to have thoroughly assimilated his influences and to have transmuted their base pianistic elements into alchemic gold. OK, that's not quite the way to put it, because to describe the contributions of these masters as "base" is simply inapt. What I'm trying to get at is to say that the mere regurgitation of others' pianistic moves has a kind of baseness per se, and only when the pianisms of others can be thoroughly transformed can their elemental contribution achieve its properly glory, which is what happens here. Of course, it helps mightily to have lured perhaps the absolute top jazz rhythm duo, James Genus (bass) and Billy Kilson (drums) onto his project. Kilson, late of that truly magical band, The Dave Holland Quintet, especially stamps these proceedings with an aural alchemy. But the real magic is the leader's ability to brilliantly evoke the masters all the while sounding little if anything like them.This is the record I've been waiting 20 years for Bob James to make. I applaud him for forsaking what I'm sure has been an entirely monetarily successful career as a mainly fusion guy to return to this acoustic jazz context, especially risky in face of such monster modernist players such as Frank Kimbrough, The Bad Plus, Jason Moran, and EST, not to mention monster newcomers such as Tord Gustavsen, Jean-Michel Pilc, and Taylor Eigsti. But James is equal to the task, and delivers a startlingly beautiful and amazingly accomplished recording.Recommended without reservation."
Bob James does it Again!!!
Brian Curtis | St. Louis, Missouri | 02/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Anything Bob James records is great and once again he proves why he is one of the top musicians of all time. Bob plays freely, improvising throughout the CD. Whether playing Traditional Jazz or Smooth Jazz, Bob has a way to make you feel good. The first Bob James Trio album was a classic. It has been a long time coming but this one was worth the wait! Fantastic!!!"
Bob James Gem
Sameer Kazerooni | Bahrain | 12/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am writing this review while I am listening to this CD for the first time. This CD is amazing. I have been listening to Bob James music for the past 20 years and he is one of my favourite piantist (My favourite pianist is Chick Corea).

This CD is truly fantastic and the quality of music is first class.

I hope that Bob James sticks to this style of playing although his playing style is fantastic but this type of music is on a much higher level.

Recommended for all Bob James Fans"