In addition to his world-wide reputation as an arranger and conductor, pianist Bob James has become a top figure in fusion with his own successful recordings.
Born in Marshall, Missouri, on Christmas day, 1939, James learned piano from age 4. His early inspiration was classical- Hindemith, before discovering the delights of jazz through Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Oscar Peterson.
In '62, James received a degree in composition from University of Michigan and went on to establish his reputation as Sarah Vaughan's musical director and accompanist. In '68 he left Sarah Vaughan and became a top arranger in soul field. In '73 , Quincy Jones (who spotted James in '62 at the Notre Dame Festival) introduced James to Creed Taylor. As a result James became an arranger/producer for the CTI label.
From '74-'76, James released four successive solo albums (One, Two, Three and Four). In '76 James joined CBS as Director of Progressive A&R and, the following year, found his own Tappen Zee label recording his own Heads and albums by Joanne Brackeen, Wilbert Longmire, Richard Tee, Mark Colby and Mongo Santamaria.
In '80, James decided to return to his own music making and in '81 released one of his jazziest albums of late- the double All Around The Town. In the mid -'80s, another aspect of James versatile musical character was revealed on Rameau for the CBS Master-works classical label- a selection of pieces by 19th-century baroque composer Jean-Phillippe Rameau, performed by James on a batter of synthesizers.
Further evidence of James' diversity of interests is shown in his musical scores (for Broadway's The Selling of the President and his arrangements for the Serpico film music). The definitive version of his popular theme Angela (which opens episodes of the TV series Taxi) is found on Touchdown ('78).