Along with being a superlative pianist, composer, and arranger, Bob is a musical iconoclast. As one of the creators of the smooth jazz genre some thirty years ago, Bob mapped out a sound that has endured to this day.
With the release of his umpteenth album, Morning, Noon & Night, Bob continues to defy convention. This collection of ten instruments and one vocal track certainly reflect the artistry of Bob James, in its silky, caressing melodies, lush textures, burnished bluesy feel, and subtle but insistent rhythms.
Bob first started playing piano at the age of 4. His first professional music job was when he was approximately 8 years old when he played for a tap dance class. Between 1950 and 1956, Bob would compete at the Missouri State Fair piano competitions and walk away with several Blue Ribbons. During this time, Bob penned his first dance band arrangement, Once in a While.
Bob's first original composition to be recorded was Blue Beau. It was included on an album produced by the Berklee School and included Charlie Mariano on alto sax.
Bob's big break came when he made an appearance at the 1962 Notre Dame Jazz Festival with his trio. The group won in every category and caught the eye of Quincy Jones. Soon after moving to New York he became an in-demand session pianist and a well respected composer and arranger.
In 1976, Bob joined CBS Records as director of progressive A&R, where he worked with Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins and Blood, Sweat and Tears. A year later, he formed his own label, Tappan Zee, inaugurating a string of solo recordings and productions.
Bob's first collaboration album was One On One, which captured the 1980 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. In that same year, Cashbox named him Jazz Artist Of The Year and he continued his musical adventures with Hands Down, Foxie and Two Of A Kind. Cashbox also named Bob, Jazz Producer of the Decade.
One of Bob's most famous recordings is the theme music for the TV hit program, Taxi. Beginning with the basic cues, Bob enhanced and elaborated upon them; the music was then heard on every subsequent episode. It's since become one of the most instantly recognizable theme songs in television history.
In 1991, Bob set out on a parallel career as a member of the super-group Fourplay. Fourplay's debut album Fourplay reached number 2 on Billboard's jazz chart and stayed there for a record 34 weeks and ultimately garnered the group a gold record.
He also branched out to record a series of classical albums, Rameau, The Scarlatti Dialogues and Bach Concertos For Two & Three Keyboards. In 1986, Bob captured another Grammy. This time for Best Jazz-Fusion Performance, Vocal or instrumental, with Double Vision, his duet with saxophonist David Sanborn. Then came Ivory Coast, Obsession, and his 1990 solo project Grand Piano Canyon.