Fourplay Celebrates 20 Years of Smooth Jazz with Esprit De Four
Fourplay, the supergroup of smooth jazz, has released its 12th studio album, Esprit De Four, in 2012. The album marks the 20th anniversary of the band, which consists of keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason and guitarist Chuck Loeb. The album features 10 tracks of original compositions by the band members, showcasing their individual styles and influences.
The album opens with "December Dream", a melodic and atmospheric piece by Loeb, who joined the band in 2010. Loeb also contributes "Sonnymoon", a funky and upbeat tune that showcases his guitar skills and interplay with James. East sings on "All I Wanna Do", a romantic ballad that he co-wrote with Tom Keane. Mason offers "Venus", a lush and elegant track that features James and Loeb trading leads and harmonizing. James, who has a fondness for Eastern culture, wrote "Sugoi" and "Put Our Hearts Together", both inspired by Japan. The latter is dedicated to the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and features Japanese superstar Seiko Matsuda on vocals.
Esprit De Four is a testament to the longevity and creativity of Fourplay, who have been making smooth jazz for over two decades. The album demonstrates their musical chemistry, versatility and passion, as well as their respect for each other and their fans. As James says in the liner notes, "We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to express ourselves through our music."
The album also features guest appearances by other musicians, such as saxophonist Kenny Garrett on "Firefly", a smooth and groovy track by East. Garrett adds some spice and soul to the song with his expressive solo. Another guest is Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone, who joins James on "Sugoi", a fast and furious duet that showcases their virtuosity and chemistry. Ozone also plays on "Logic of Love", a beautiful ballad by Loeb that features his wife Carmen Cuesta on vocals.
The title track, "Esprit De Four", is a collaborative effort by all four band members, who each wrote a section of the song. The result is a dynamic and diverse composition that reflects their different personalities and backgrounds. The song starts with a mellow intro by James, then shifts to a Latin groove by Loeb, followed by a funky bridge by East, and finally a swinging finale by Mason. The song is a perfect example of how Fourplay blends different elements into a cohesive and captivating whole.
Esprit De Four is not only a celebration of Fourplay's 20 years of smooth jazz, but also a statement of their artistic vision and evolution. The album showcases their individual talents as well as their collective synergy, and proves that they are still relevant and innovative in the genre. As Loeb says in the liner notes, "We hope you enjoy listening to this music as much as we enjoyed making it."
The album has received positive reviews from critics and fans alike, who praised the band's musicality, diversity and creativity. Audiophile Audition called the album "a very satisfying listen" and said that "the group has never sounded better" [^1^]. Smooth Jazz Therapy described the album as "a stunning collection of ten all original compositions that find the band in sparkling form" and said that "Fourplay has delivered what is arguably its finest album to date" . JazzTimes also gave the album a favorable review, saying that "Fourplay remains one of the most intuitive and enjoyable bands in the genre" .
The album also reached number one on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, as well as number 10 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart . The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in 2013, but lost to Chris Botti's Impressions (Columbia, 2012) . The band performed some of the songs from the album on their 20th anniversary tour, which took them to various countries such as Japan, China, Indonesia, Russia and Germany . a474f39169