Over four days in December of 1979, pianist Bob James assembled three different bands to play (and record) at three legendary venues in New York City to showcase his own diversity as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. The Bottom Line, Town Hall, and Carnegie Hall, all offered different aspects of James' approach to jazz and popular music. The Bottom Line band is a smooth and funky sextet that includes saxophonists Wilbert Longmire and Mark Colby, James, drummer Idris Muhammad, bassist Gary King, and guitarist Hiram Bullock.
For his ninth contemporary jazz release, Bob James brings in the multitalented Rod Temperton, and an all-star vocal cast including Patti Austin, Lani Groves, Major Holley, Luther Vandross, and many others for what only can be described as pure musical magic. The macabre "Hypnotique" with its unintelligible vocals is the ultimate "daytime nightmare". The tempo picks up on the funky "The Steamin' Feeling". We are transported to magical lands with the dreamy "Enchanted Forest". Spyro Gyra frontman Jay Beckenstein shows his stuff on "Unicorn". Bob shows amazing dexterity on both the acoustic piano and Oberheim polyphonic synth. The title song features the vocal cast, as well as some interesting sound effects by Tabby Andriello.
With Sign of the Times, Bob James, who had done so much to define so-called smooth jazz, gave his audience yet another dose of the type of pop/R&B/jazz fluff he'd been successful with. Consistently boring and mindless, the album has all of the things one expects from a Bob James recording dull arrangements, forgettable melodies and robotic background vocals.
With just his piano, his tunes, and several duet partners on Dancing on the Water, Bob James's deftness with a hook is unmistakable. His smooth-jazz group Fourplay could easily buff up "Hum Drum" and "Bogie's Boogie" into bona fide hits. On the duets with pianists Joe Sample and Keiko Matsui, James submerges his style to go inside the musical worlds of his partners. He probably wrote "Altair & Vega" and "Duo Oto Subito" for the Japanese dynamo, as it is sometimes difficult to tell on these Asian-flavored tunes where Matsui ends and James begins. Even if Sample and James weren't set on each side of the mix, it's easy to tell who's who, because Sample's rhythmic playing and solo style are unique and dominating. James does his best soloing on the duets with bassist supreme Dave Holland, including a great reading of "Last Night When We Were Young."
BAI BANG’s recipe for hits is based on the basics, short tracks, easy living melodies and lots of energies. The music shows passion and how veteran these guys really are. It can only last as long as you will let it flow, nothing boring here. BAI BANG play it as both a party and of the real Rock N’ Roll life. Every follower of melodic Hard Rock and a fan of bands like L.A. GUNS, H.E.A.T., STEEL PANTHER and THE POODLES will be in cloud nine during while listening to this album.