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Bob James, David Sanborn reunite, invoke predecessors on new album

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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Back in 1986, pianist Bob James and saxophonist David Sanborn won a Grammy AWard for their platinum album "Double Vision." And they certainly didn't anticipate it would be another it would be nearly three decades before they'd collaborate again -- this time on "Quartette Humaine," which came out in May.

"Yeah, it's one of those projects that people are repeatedly asking what took us so long -- and it's true," says James, 73, a University of Michigan alumnus who lives in Traverse City. "Although we remained friends and bumped into each other quite frequently and always talked about doing something again, for one reason or another it never happened."

But following a late-night jam session at the Tokyo Jazz Festival during the late 00s, James says that "finally we got serious and decided it was time to try to make up for lost time, so here we are."

"Quartette Humaine" is, however, markedly different than its predecessor. The album, which thematically pays tribute to the work of late jazz forebears pianist Dave Brubeck and saxophonist Paul Desmond, is more acoustic and melodically subtle than "Double Vision." Recorded in December, about a week after Brubeck died, the set also features bassist James Genus and drummer Steve Gadd, as well as a mix of original songs and covers of "My Old Flame" and "Geste Humain" arranged by James.

"We both agreed it would not be a good idea to try to recreate that sound that was so unique on ('Double Vision')," James explains. "Generally, just revisiting things the same way is not a good idea anyway. So we began to talk about what other direction we could go and arrived at this idea of an acoustic ensemble, which is very fresh and kind of pulls us out of our habit zones.

"And as much as we enjoyed recording it, I think we're even more excited about the idea of performing it live and seeing where the music goes once we get it on stage, in front of an audience. There are a lot of great possibilities there."

Bob James and David Sanborn perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Chene Park Amphitheatre, 2600 Atwater St., Detroit. Tickets are $35 and $17 pavilion, $12 lawn. Call 313-393-7128 or visit www.cheneparkdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.cheneparkdetroit.com

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