Yes, Please (Warner Bros. Records)


Released August 22, 2000

Grammy Nominee for Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2001




For over 25 years the legend of Fourplay has grown.  Exploring the limitless possibilities of jazz has allowed the quartet to evolve musically, drawing musical elements from a wide range of styles, to hone their own unique and innovative sound.

The story begins in 1990, with keyboardist Bob James, who had already established himself as a formidable figure in jazz, known not just as an instrumentalist, also but as a composer and arranger, with a solo career dating back to the mid-1960s.

It was in 1990, when James decided to reunite with Harvey Mason during the recording of James’ album Grand Piano Canyon.  Mason, one of the most highly sought after drummers of all time (Herbie Hancock, Barbra Steisand, Notorious B.I.G.), was also well known as a composer and producer.  This project also included Lee Ritenour, and bassist Nathan East (Barry White, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk).  This recording marked the genesis of the group known as Fourplay.

The original lineup of James, Mason, East, and Ritenour released their self-titled debut in 1991, and stayed together for three successive albums, including Elixir in 1994.  Elixir features vocalists such as Phil Collins, Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson, along with East, who has continued to contribute vocals throughout the course of the group’s history.

For the release of album 4 in 1998, Fourplay brought in Larry Carlton (The Crusaders, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones) to replace Ritenour, who left the group to pursue other projects.  Album 4included compositions by all four members, and featured an impressive crew of guest vocalists, including El Debarge, Babyface Edmonds, Kevyn Lettau and Shanice.

Carlton stayed with the group for 12 years, before delving into his own solo career.  During that time, the group continued its creative evolution, with releases such as 1999’s, Yes Please!, and album which challenged the standard definitions of contemporary jazz by incorporating elements of blues, funk and Celtic.

Track Listing:

1. Free Range (Harvey Mason, Sr.) 6:25

2. Double Trouble (Nathan East) 5:49

3. Once Upon a Love (Nathan East) 4:33

4. Robo Bop (Bob James) 6:28

5. Blues Force (Larry Carlton / Nathan East / Bob James / Harvey Mason, Sr.) 6:59

6. Save Some Love for Me (Nathan East) 5:33

7. Fortress (Bob James) 8:11

8. Go With Your Heart (Harvey Mason, Sr.) 4:05

9. Poco a Poco (Harvey Mason, Sr.) 5:14

10. A Little Fourplay (Marcel East / Nathan East) 4:21

11. Lucky (Bob James) 5:33


Bob James: keyboards

Larry Carlton: guitar

Nathan East: bass

Harvey Mason: drums

Sherree: vocals (10)

Recorded at Sear Sound, NY; Remidi Studio, NY; Larrabee East, L.A.; Capitol Studios, CA; Pyramid Studios, CA

Produced by Fourplay


There’s no doubt that Fourplay is, collectively, one of the most talent-laden ensembles in contemporary jazz today. But their output to date, while always accessible to the masses, has alternated between interesting, worthwhile comtempo fare (their eponymous debut CD and their third release, Elixir) and more watered-down, commercially-oriented “smooth jazz” (Between the Sheets and 4 ). On their latest CD Yes, Please  , we get some of each. The disc gets off to a promising start with “Free Range,” “Double Trouble,” and “Robo Bop” – the breezy melodies are supported with some interesting harmonies and creative background fills (Bob James trademarks) and some good group interplay. Larry Carlton’s pensive, singing guitar caresses the lines of the ballad “Once Upon a Love.” Carlton displays his bluesier side on “Blues Force,” though James’ solo seems stilted and awkward.

The disc’s radio offerings, however, reach new lows in sterile banality. Female background vocalists seductively coo “Save Some Love for Me (Tonight)” repeatedly over a plodding drum loop. The saccharine seduction resumes on “A Little Foreplay.”

Throughout this disc, mellow is the word. The tempos range from slow to medium, and the dynamics rarely reach above mezzoforte. While the musicianship is impeccable and there are interesting touches here and there, it’s a very relaxed, placid outing.

Dave Hughes (All About Jazz)