Bob James was once nearly as popular an instrumental crossover star as Kenny G., though he never sold anywhere near as many records. But during the '70s, James' light, hook-laden pop instrumental sessions were often on the charts. The songs had minimal improvisation, were fortified with either heavy backbeats or dominated by strings. They were also tightly produced affairs with background vocalists and featured simple arrangements or reworkingsRead more of urban contemporary and recent pop hits. James' background as a pianist, composer and arranger included extensive bebop and free sessions; he even issued an album of wide-ranging material for ESP. James earned a masters degree from the University of Michigan in the early '60s in composition, and recorded albums of bebop and free music during that time. He was Sarah Vaughan's music director in the mid-'60s, then played with Quincy Jones, Morgana King, Roberta Flack and Dionne Warwick as a session player in the late '60s and early '70s in New York. James joined Creed Taylor's CTI label as an arranger in 1973, and soon also became a house producer and composer. He worked with Grover Washington, Jr., Hubert Laws, Ron Carter and Eric Gale. In addition, James was a label artist in 1974, but moved to CBS the next year. He worked with Neil Diamond and Paul Simon before starting his own label, Tappan Zee, in 1977. Besides working with other artists like Mongo Santamaria and Richard Tee, James issued his own hit albums and recorded in 1979 with Earl Klugh. He continued making albums through the '80s and '90s, and expanded into television and films. James composed the theme for "Taxi." He moved to Warner Bros. in the mi-80s, and has since issued albums with David Sanborn, Klugh again, and has done a classical date as well as his familiar instrumental pop sessions. James has recorded for ESP and Mercury, as well as CTI, Columbia/Tappan Zee and Warner Bros. He has several sessions available on CD. Read less
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