Silver features appearances by Carlton, Ritenour
By David Sands
December 22, 2015
A quarter of a century is a rather remarkable period of time for a jazz ensemble to stay together.
We’re happy to report that the celebrated jazz quartet, Fourplay, reached just that milestone this year and are celebrating the happy occasion with a new album called Silver.
The supergroup began its journey in 1990, when keyboardist Bob James asked drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Nathan East, and guitarist Lee Ritenour to collaborate with him on the recording of his album Grand Piano Canyon. They released their self-titled debut in 1991. Since then, they’ve released more than ten albums, received a Grammy nomination and had several number one hits on Billboard‘s contemporary jazz chart.
“It became apparent from our very first album that this particular group of musicians had a special sound,” East says of Fourplay in a release. “We appreciate whatever that chemistry or magic has been between us and have had a great time on our journey together as we’ve developed our music.”
Now consisting of East, James, Mason and guitarist Chuck Loeb, the quartet has chosen to honor their silver anniversary with a ten-track album, which was released by Concord last month. It was made at Hollywood’s Sunset Sound studio, the same place they recorded their debut nearly 25 years ago.
The new album is packed full of songs with silver-related names like “Sterling,”Silverado,” and “Horace,” a reference to the legendary jazz pianist Horace Silver. In addition to the four current members of the quartet, Silver also features appearances by their former guitarists Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour–who each helped compose a track–and saxophonist Kirk Whalum.
“We have no leader, but we are all leaders,” James says of Fourplay’s music-making methodology. “[Silver] was approached pretty much the same as all our projects,” he added. “Each of us developed new original compositions separately and eventually brought them into the studio to develop.”
Bassist Nathan East helped compose two of Silver’s tracks. “Sterling,” co-written with Chuck Loeb, starts off with a strong piano opening by James, then switches gears, to focus on Loeb’s guitar playing, which is supported with memorable rhythm backup by East, James and Mason. East’s song “Anniversario,” on the other hand, gives the bass player an opportunity to show his funkier side on a track where his instrument definitely has its moments center stage.
“Our music is recorded live in the studio and there is no set rule,” Mason says of the band’s approach. “Some tunes go quickly and some take more time as we may tweak and tweak.”
“The key is respect, and the composer of each tune has the final word unless there are extremely strong objections, in which case we discuss and come to an amiable decision,” he adds. “It’s like a great marriage that has worked for 25 years.”
4. A Silver Lining
7. Silver Streak
8. Precious Metal
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Label: Concord Music
Silver is available here:
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