Fourplay – Silver

The disc is silver. Four silver coins adorn the cover. And the music is certainly precious. Fourplay releases its 25th anniversary album, Silver (Heads Up International, 2015). With little exception, each song title plays off the anniversary theme.

The supergroup debuted in 1990, four accomplished jazz artists who have been both sidemen and leaders. The current group consists of Bob James, piano, keyboards and synths; Nathan East, bass and vocals; Chuck Loeb, acoustic and electric guitars, and synths; and Harvey Mason, drums, percussion, vibes and synths. Founding guitarist Lee Ritenour makes an appearance, as does his replacement, Larry Carlton. Additional players are Kirk Whalum, tenor sax on “Precious Metal”; Chris Wells, background vocals on “Silver Streak”; John Beasley, additional keyboards on “Windmill”; Mitch Forman, organ on “Silverado”; and Tom Keane, synth on “Aniversario.”

Loeb composed the opener, “Quicksilver.” It’s an upbeat, yet mellow piece in a way that’s mildly reminiscent of “Bali Run,” the first track of the group’s debut, Fourplay. East provides a whispery, wordless chant during the chorus. That it has similar sound to “Bali Run” may not be an accident. In the liner notes, Loeb writes of his fondness for Fourplay from its inception, mentioning his great admiration for Ritenour and Carlton. “With this recording, I urged my bandmates to revisit their discography and keep the spirit of that very first recording, and all those that followed, present.”

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