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Fourplay Still at the Forefront

Fifteen years after the release of their debut album, Fourplay has yet to relinquish its title of "smooth jazz warriors." As we hear from VOA's Doug Levine, the all-star quartet is back with a new album that's already climbed to the top of the contemporary jazz chart.

Ten albums in 15 years isn't too bad considering each member of Fourplay spends much of their time on their own solo projects or recording with others. But, when schedules permit, and all four musicians can reunite for another album or another tour, there's no stopping the creative forces at work. As bassist Nathan East says, "We always make the time to get together, mainly because it's fun."

Fourplay's individual starpower hasn't upset their balance. When veteran pianist Bob James came up with the idea to form the group, there was no leader, and each musician was an equal partner. To this day, their music is a collaborative effort with James, East, drummer Harvey Mason, and Fourplay's guitarist since 1997, Larry Carlton, contributing to the writing, arranging and producing of every album.

One exception on their new release X (10) is the Steve Winwood composition My Love's Leavin', featuring Michael McDonald on lead vocals.

Fouplay recently finished a world tour that took them to South Africa, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Europe and the U.S. In September, the group performed at the 50th anniversary of the Blue Note nightclub in New York City.

One stop Fourplay has promised to make is at the upcoming Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, where they're nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album, X (10). Ironically, they'll be competing with their very own Larry Carlton and his album Firewire in the same category.