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January/February 2003

Bob James
Morning, Noon and Night
Warner Brothers

Bob James' Morning, Noon, & Night (Warner Bros.) illustrates the veteran keyboardist's eclectic musical sensibility. James demonstrates his willingness to incorporate contemporary elements into his sound with the hip-hop-influenced opener "Street Smart," wherein his jazzy piano glides over turntable scratches, samples and hip-hop grooves supplied by Rob Swift of the X-Ecutioners.

James' jazzy piano stylings meet Rick Braun's elegant flugelhorn solos on "Five O'Clock Chateau," the dramatic "Dai Dai Ya" features some call-and-response between James' Fender Rhodes and Keiko Matsui's classically influenced piano, and James' daughter, singer Hilary James, delivers a melancholy vocal performance on the adult contemporary ballad "When the Love Is Over." Top smooth-jazz producer Paul Brown makes a rare artist appearance on "Over & Over"; the gospel-inflected track gets some South Asian flavor courtesy of Brown's electric sitar accents. On James' tribute to Count Basie, "Count on It," jazzy soloing by the keyboardist and by guitarist/producer Chuck Loeb, coupled with a horn section that provides unobtrusive but unmistakable shading and punctuation, brings Morning, Noon, & Night to a gently swinging close.

Originally published in January/February 2003
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