Review Summary: "Smooth jazz" that doesn't put me to sleep
Although you may not recognize the name Bob James it’s quite possible that you’ve actually heard his music. Over thirty hip-hop groups have sampled his music, including A Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killah, Run D.M.C, Jeru the Damaja and several others. It’s kind of strange how a man could be sampled in so many popular rap songs yet be so underrated and forgotten in his own respective genre; smooth jazz. Out of the 30+ albums that James released during his obliterated career One
is often regarded as the highlight. Mixing together smooth funk with light jazz James was able to create an assortment of sounds branching out to a variety of different styles and moods. At points James sounds like a combination of Sly & the Family Stone and Miles Davis with his painless combination of methods.
The main component to One
would have to Bob James’s smooth piano playing. Using his Fender Rhodes keyboard Bob goes from playing danceable fusion tunes to dark, eerie jazz. Everything about One
is smooth whether it be the fluid keyboard playing, the exotic guitar sounds, or the polished, bright production. The whole album is littered with sparkling keyboard effects giving it an extremely lightweight, bouncy atmosphere. In the Garden
is a prime example of this mainly consisting of James’s sparkly piano playing and a laid-back, jazzy harmonica line. Valley of the Shadows
is another highlight; it’s nearly ten minutes of spooky tribal percussion, eerie backing vocals, and creamy guitar playing. Whether it be a slow, spirited song or an upbeat funk tune James always makes his music sound so flowing and sinuous. Nautilis
is a beautiful funk inspired piece propelled by a slick bassline and subtle keyboard touches that join together effortlessly creating a homogenous combo of jazz and R&B. One
is classified as a jazz album yet there is minimal usage of brass instruments. Instead the album is much more guitar and piano based giving it heavy influences of rock, funk, and R&B.
Despite the fact that jazz music isn’t looked upon as accessible Bob James is able to create an uncomplicated, almost effortless jazz album. Even those who aren’t very interested in jazz music should still give One
a listen; the album offers a palette of different of sounds and instruments in a very accessible manner. Although One
isn’t an extremely flashy or remarkable recording it is an incredibly fun, relaxing, and interesting album.