Bob James had a significant hand in making smooth music a ‘thing’. But eventually, even hip hop artists were so influenced by his eclectic grooves they started to sample some of his keyboard licks; these artists include DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince who sampledBob’s ‘Westchester Lady’ on their ‘88 tune, ‘Here We Go Again’. Funnily enough, Jazzy Jeff reappears 35 years later on Bob’s latest album, Jazz Hands, in ‘That Bop’ - a hypnotic beat filled with synths and loops.
In fact, hip hop turned out to be a major influence on this album that evolved as he hunkered down in his home studio during the pandemic. Collaborations with his favourite musicians over the internet and by computer resulted in a very eclectic album, but eclectic in a good way, he says, incorporating a lot of “different approaches” to writing and recording. Bob claims that this is his best work yet! It’s so good it's been nominated for ‘Best Contemporary Instrumental Album’ of the year at the Grammys February 4. His 50th solo album also features Dave Koz on ‘Come Into My Dream’ - a lush, romantic and calming track that highlights Bob’s amazing talent. He just turned 84 on Christmas Day and was recently quoted as saying, “My life is music and as long as I'm able to play it, I’ll keep feeling young”.