The pianist and arranger Bob James, who is in his eighties, made a name for himself in the seventies as a crossover jazz musician after having supported Maynard Ferguson as a pianist and having worked for Sarah Vaughan as pianist and arranger until the end of the sixties. His successful time as a crossover and fusion musician is documented on his four albums One, Two Three and BJ4, which are the most important ones for this jazz art form. Later he turned to the jazz variation Smooth Jazz, which is also the style of saxophonist and flutist Kirk Whalum. Kirk Whalum first met Bob James, 20 years his senior, in 1984 in Houston, where he was a member of the warm-up band for the Bob James concert. Tours together subsequently brought the two closer together. This fruitful time for both musicians echoes in Joined at the Hip.
This album was first released in 1996 and is now available in a remastered version based on the mix that was recorded in high resolution at the time. Responsible for the remastering is Kenn Freeman, who had already been recording the original session as sound engineer. The album, which was nominated for a Grammy at the time, reached tenth place in the Billboard Jazz Charts, but did not meet with the interest of the audience that this extremely fruitful meeting of Bob James and Kirk Whalum would have deserved. Apparently, the producers of the remastered version of Joined at the Hip 25 years after the first edition today hope for a greater acceptance of the album by the interested audience.
The album deserves more acceptance than it did in the past, as everyone involved, not only Bob James and Kirk Whalum, but also guitarist Jeff Golub, bassist Chris Walker and drummer Billy Kilson, give their best title after title.
Kirk Whalum's "Soweto" and Maria Muldaur's "Midnight At The Oasis" and Donny Hathaway's "The Ghetto" from the seventies, both of which are jazzed up with fantasy and love, are proving to be outstanding. Variety is the order of the day: each title spans its own fascinating world of sound. Everyone who has heard this album in its first edition before, but also everyone who listens to it for the first time as a remastering, will ask himself why it was not more successful at that time. The excellent sound of the new album in download form is a sign that this is about to change.
Bob James, piano
Kirk Whalum, saxophone
Will Patrick, guitar
Chris Walker, bass
Billy Kilson, drums