Fourplay embarked 20 years ago on a collective project that has stood the test of time. Those lucky enough to witness their performance at The Grand, Clapham at the end of a European tour were treated to a spellbinding night of music combining emotional power and intensity with peerless virtuoso brilliance; hardly a surprise when you consider that this group of musicians comprise some of the very best instrumentalists and songwriters of any era, and all at the top of their game. Yet I have seen no other review of this brilliant gig in the jazz press. Why is this kind of music generally so ill-served by the specialists? … Continue reading
“After 20 years of Fourplay, maybe they felt we should move on…”, says Chuck Loeb in a jocular manner later that night, employing the pun on words in the band’s name when introducing one of the songs he contributed to Fourplay’s 12th album “Let’s Touch the Sky“. While the cover art suggests that very endeavor with the band member’s hands reaching up, nearly two hours of stellar live music performances left no doubt among avid music lovers who had flocked to Bayerischer Hof Night Club on this November, 8th 2011 night that Smooth Jazz’s famous supergroup are doing exactly that: They’re not only touching the sky, but weaving a musical skyscape with arrangements and solos that exude virtuosity, verve and vitality in equal parts.
Katharina Ehmki, CEO of Ehmki Music Management, promoter and press relations at the venue, landed the renowned music act as a major highlight of her New York at Bayerischer Hof series, and proved her experienced hand at knowing Jazz fans’ expectations: Fourplay packed the place to the last available seat and had every non-seated area crowded as well! Which might explain why fans had started to line up well before admittance at 8 pm, as Fourplay had sold out many venues prior to coming to Munich.
The Grand in Clapham has not long re-opened its doors after a cool half a million quid was spent on a major refurbishment. The revamp of this important 111 year-old listed building is described as “demanding of passion and vision…. A labour of both preservation and re-invention. “
Having been there in the 1990s shooting a show and since the refurb’, to do an interview and photo shoot, I can confirm they did a marvellous job in bringing this beautiful theatre back to life, and providing London with a venue to be very proud of. Sight lines and acoustics are spot on. Staff friendly and facilities are fine.
Passion. Vision. Preservation. Re-invention. Apt labels that could also be applied to the band I went to see there. Fourplay. The so-called Jazz “Supergroup,” who have clocked up two decades since celebrated pianist and film/TV score composer Bob James, grabbed bass legend Nathan East and drum hero Harvey Mason at a recording session for his own album in 1990, and suggested they form a band. Guitar star Lee Ritenour completed the quartet and they were off, with the release of their million selling self-titled debut album in 1991. Lee stayed for six years, until the great Larry Carlton replaced him. Celebrating their 12th album, the guys flew into London for a one-night stand in Clapham, minus Larry; who left to focus on his solo career last year. But they brought with them Mr Charles Loeb on guitar. Chuck to his friends, having played on many sessions with Bob over the years. Big shoes to fill for sure, and he himself told me in the dressing room in the afternoon, a daunting task when he got the call, but one he took on with relish and brought many, many new tricks to the party. His own.