Bob James & David Sanborn featuring Steve Gadd

At Town Hall – Show at 8PM (Doors at 7:30PM)

Photo: Hollis King

OKeh will release keyboardist-composer-arranger Bob James and alto saxophonist DavidSanborn’s new album, Quartette Humaine, on May 21, 2013. The project is the first collaboration between the two musicians since their 1986 Platinum-selling, GRAMMY® Award-winning album, Double Vision. An all-acoustic quartet offering, Quartette Humaine pays tribute to the late iconic pianist-composer Dave Brubeck, putting a prime spotlight on his work that featured alto saxophonist Paul Desmond.

On their second go-round, the old masters eschew the pop and R&B production values that mark large chunks of their respective discographies, and offer instead an all-acoustic quartet recital consisting of four new compositions by James, three pieces by Sanborn, and two James-arranged covers (“My Old Flame,” “Geste Humain”). Propelled by legendary drummer Steve Gadd and 21st century bass giant James Genus, the proceedings are reflective, swinging, chock-a-block with unfailingly melodic improvising and beautiful tonalities.

It’s a poignant coincidence that the recording sessions occurred in December 2012, a week after the death of Dave Brubeck, who the protagonists were thinking of as they gestated Quartette Humaine. “We talked about the interplay of Brubeck’s quartet withPaul Desmond,” Sanborn says. Coming from that, I assumed we’d make a quartet date. I like being able to really hear all the individual instruments. We had this beautiful 9-foot grand piano, and you can hear its sound ring out. You get more sonic purity without all those other elements.”

Indeed, both the tunes and treatments channel Brubeck’s gift for creating communicative music from highbrow raw materials. “Dave has a similar capability toPaul Desmond-though in a different way-in that the lyric quality of the way they play takes it into an emotional-romantic concept rather than an intellectual one,” James says ofSanborn. “I felt-and I still do when I listen to the Brubeck quartet-that they were taking us on an adventure, and some of the adventure was challenging. Just when you thought you knew where you were going, they’d go somewhere different.”

It’s this adventurous, “in-the-moment” spirit that fuels Sanborn and James on Quartette Humaine. “It’s so much fun to do it this way,” Sanborn reflects. “I used to separate live playing from being in the studio, and got into a mindset of having to labor over a record and make it right. I want the studio to reflect that live experience-the fun of discovery, not knowing what’s going to happen until it happens.”

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