Pianist/composer Bob James made his fame as top-selling smooth jazz pioneer and his theme song to the TV show Taxi
is one of the most familiar melodies in syndication. But his roots are in straight-ahead jazz. On this CD with bassist James Genus and drummer Billy Kilson, James pays tribute to his piano heroes and drops some surprises into the mix. His treatment of Nat "King" Cole
's "Straighten Up and Fly Right," is driven by hip-hop rimshots, and Mal Waldron
's classic ballad "Soul Eyes" is syncopated with a Latin lilt. James's most impressive act of syncopated subversion is his take on the Petula Clark
hit "Downtown." Somehow Bob James manages to keep it smooth and
jazzy. --Eugene Holley, Jr.