Released in 2004

Grammy Nominee Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2005




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 album, 4. The seasonal Snowbound was released in 1999. It featured traditional and modern holiday songs, all played in the quartet’s increasingly slick style. The band ended its tenure with Warner Bros. with 2000’s soft babymaker album Yes, Please.
Fourplay attempted to break new ground with 2002’s Heartfelt, which was their debut album for RCA’s Bluebird imprint. The album consisted of live studio jamming that was heavily edited and assembled using Pro Tools. In 2004 they issued Journey, more a return to their earlier, smoother form than a building-block progression from Heartfelt.

Scott Yanow & Thom Jurek

Track Listing:

1. Fields of Gold (Sting) 5:40

2. Play Around It (Nathan East) 5:04

3. From Day One (Bob James) 5:54

4. Journey (Nathan East) 3:27

5. Rozil (Harvey Mason, Sr.) 5:29

6. Cool Train (Larry Carlton) 5:31

7. Avalabop (Bob James) 6:09

8. The Firehouse Chill (Nathan East) 5:36

9. Departure (Bob James) 5:16

10. 147 4th St. (Larry Carlton) 5:49


Bob James: piano

Larry Carlton: guitar

Nathan East: bass and vocals

Harvey Mason: drums

Bikki Johnson: background vocals and shaker

Cody “Peyote” Cassiero: DJ

Recorded at Firehouse Recording Pyramid Studio

Produced by Fourplay, except “Journey” produced by Marcel East and Fourplay

Recorded by Don Murray

Mixed by Don Murray, Antonio “Moogie” Canazio

Mastered by Robert Vosgien

Engineer: Don Murray, Marcel East, Ken Freeman

Assistant Engineer: Ed Woolley, Jun Murakaw

Cover Painting: Bob James

Design: Richard Thomas Jennings

Photography: Jun Sato


Fourplay has always been misunderstood by many jazz critics, who misinterpret the band’s easygoing groove as background music. But while Fourplay has always remained true to its name—with seductive rhythms to get you in the mood—on its new CD, its seventh in thirteen years, more than ever the band combines those seductive sounds with some real playing that fans can feast on. It’s no surprise that Fourplay puts the talents of its leaders out front, since the band boasts the talents of superstars Larry Carlton on guitar, Bob James on piano, Nathan East on bass and Harvey Mason on drums.

Journey includes nine original songs and one cover, Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” which opens the CD and substitutes Carlton’s acoustic guitar for Sting’s vocals. Carlton gets a workout over a—yes—seductive backdrop. Journey is Fourplay’s “jazziest” CD to date, and this is reflected in songs such as “147 4th St.” and “Departure,” both of which showcase James’ jazz piano playing and the improvisational nature of the recording. It’s all done in Fourplay style, however, so longtime fans will no doubt embrace the jazzy turn of events.

There are some classic Fourplay moments: “Rozil” is a quiet number with vocalese; “Cool Train” throws out a shuffle beat and a bass lead by East; and “From Day One” has a surprising twist about three-quarters of the way through; just when you think it’s over, the band comes back for about two more minutes in a new musical direction. And East lends his vocal talents to “Play Around It” and the title track, “Journey,” which also features Bikki Johnson on background vocals and shaker. Not as consistently good as other Fourplay efforts, but this one is a Journey worth taking.

Brian Soergel (AllAboutJazz)