It’s hard to come up with a more evocative sound than a Fourplay song – the flowing funk undertones of drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Nathan East, and the wonderful keyboard work of Bob James support the memorable themes they have created for over 25 years. Their newest guitarist Chuck Loeb is joined by Fourplay alumni and Jazz guitar icons Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour on Silver, the newest album from this seminal group.
Composer, producer and keyboardist Bob James is well known for writing such evocative themes as “Angela”, a song so singular that it can serve as the theme of a sitcom as well as the backing track to the newest Cee Lo song. The Fourplay member/founder sat down with us in this edition of Deezer Five Questions:
1) The guests on Silver encompass the history of the band – how was it to have previous members like Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour co-writing and playing on tracks in the studio again, and will you have some special guests join you out on tour for this album?
It was very sentimental to re-visit the memories of the fun times we shared with Lee & Larry during their tenure with the band. When we premiered the Silver CD in Japan it turned that both Lee & Larry were there and were able to join us onstage.
We’ll have to get lucky for that to happen again, but it was fun.
2) When you started the band 25 years ago, did you think that it would be together this long?
No, we could have never predicted it. Although we definitely had the team spirit back then, & didn’t want our first record to just be a one-off
3) Many people might not know how far your roots go back in Jazz – with a CV that goes back to working with Sarah Vaughan and some of the greats from the CTI label such as Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington Jr., what are the most significant changes you have seen in your audience and how they are hearing your music?
As a result of the hip-hop evolution & my early music being sampled so frequently , I’ve had the fringe benefit of my music being brought to a new young audience. Admittedly usually just in small chunks, but it has often led to them search for more & discover my music in its original form.
4) All of you in Fourplay (as well as past members like Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour) have either composed or have played on tracks that have been sampled on some of the biggest Pop and Hip-Hip tracks – how does it feel when you hear part of “Nautilus” on a Hip-Hop tune or “Angela” on the newest Cee-Lo cut?
It’s a great feeling! I’m excited to know that the music holds up & is still being heard. I was especially thrilled to hear how Cee-Lo went one step further & actually molded his new melody & lyric to ‘Angel’ rather than just sampling a chunk. It was so creative & flattering. I love his new track & am happy he incorporated my tune.
5) A group like Fourplay is really an anomaly – to be together for so long and not only challenge yourselves and grow over the years, but to be able to create music that is both recognizable within a few notes and so different and creative album after album is very unique. How do you keep the creativity fresh over the years, and what advice would you give other groups about keeping the creative juices going gig after gig?
Creating new music is the passion of my life. It’s my work but also my hobby. My only advice to others would be to love what they do & give it their best efforts. I never stop trying to improve. There are always new goals & new music to explore.
Listen to Fourplay’s last album: http://www.deezer.com/album/11158206