James, Bob [Robert ]
- Stuart Isacoff
(b Marshall, MO, Dec 25, 1939). American pianist, keyboard player, arranger, composer, and record producer. After studying composition at the University of Michigan (MA 1962) he was discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1963. That year he recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, for Mercury Records. He began performing as a freelance musician with such artists as Jones, Morgana King, Roberta Flack, and Dionne Warwick, but credits the producer Creed Taylor for the launch of his career in 1973, when he became an arranger for Taylor’s label Creed Taylor Incorporated (CRI). The following year he joined CBS and worked with the singers Neil Diamond and Paul Simon. In 1977 he formed his own record company, Tappan Zee, and used it to promote the music of several musicians, including Richard Tee and Mongo Santamaria.
James became associated with the smooth-jazz sound, and his first big instrumental hit in that vein, “Angela,” was used as the theme song for the television series “Taxi,” for which James became resident composer. The first of his three albums with the guitarist Earl Klugh, ...