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Album Review

As a unit, contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay has been together since 1991 with only one personnel change. That's saying a lot considering that as individuals, these four men — pianist Bob James, drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Nathan East, and guitarist Larry Carlton — are all extremely busy as studio musicians and Fourplay is a side project for all of them. They've managed to record on an average of once every two years and even do some touring, without every sacrificing their chosen m.o. for working together or the quality of the music they produce. In all, they've been remarkably consistent. 2008's Energy is the ninth chapter in the Fourplay legacy, and it's almost exactly what you'd expect if you're a fan: high quality, great sounding, expertly performed smooth, groovy jazz played by masters of the genre. Seven instrumentals and three vocal cuts add a spoonful of pop to these proceedings. The obvious single here is "Prelude for Lovers" with guest vocalist Esperanza Spalding, which melds neo-soul melody and Caribbean rhythms; it's quietly sultry and its refrain contains a serious hook. East appears on two others, which are not so memorable but certainly work in the context of the easy grooves being laid down; in fact, his voice is almost an additional instrument. Other highlights on the set include the opener "Fortune Teller," written by James, Carlton's funky "Ultralight," and "Comfort Zone," with its backbone-slipping groove.

Customer Reviews

Once again a classsic

Once again a true classic. I own every CD that Fourplay has ever produced since they have been together. If you don't own the other ones, please go back and purchase them in order to truly appreciate this fusion jazz group's talent. This is by far the most dynamic and talented jazz group out there. I always have been and always will be a Fourplay fan. Also if you have never heard them in concert, it is definitely worth the time and effort to go hear them for yourself. It is something that you will never forget. Thanks Fourplay for another great CD!

A welcome addition to an already outstanding catalog

I was fortunate enough to get a pre-release copy of "Energy" 3 weeks before of the national release date. I eagerly await each new album from these guys and from the very first listen I knew they another fantastic album on their hands. "The Whistler" is a pleasant diversion for them, and "Sebastian" quickly became a favorite of mine. I wasn't a Jazz fan until I discovered Fourplay, but since I did (on their very first album) they quickly became my all-time favorite group and each subsequent album I have purchased within its first week of release. Laid back and solid, heartfelt and smooth, there simply isn't another group like Fourplay...anywhere.

Some Good Tracks

Frankly, I have always admired Nathan's imaginative style. Larry Carlton has always been one of my favorite jazz players, he seems to have an endless supply of smooth grooves that you don't get tired of. Bob James also seems to be adept at creating a groove. This record is great if you are already a fan, but if you are looking for something new, this is more of the same. Excellent quality by talented musicians, but not much uncharted waters. Fortune Teller and Argentina are the best.


Formed: 1991

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

This all-star group -- comprised of keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Lee Ritenour, bassist Nathan East, and drummer Harvey Mason -- was formed in 1991 after the quartet came together on part of James' Grand Piano Canyon album. They have since recorded a number of CDs for Warner Bros. that have all been big sellers, not surprising considering the popularity of James and Ritenour. Larry Carlton took over the guitarist's spot in the late '90s, first appearing in Fourplay on the band's successful 1998...
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Energy, Fourplay
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Customer Ratings