Dancing on the Water

Bob James

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Dancing on the Water Review

by Paula Edelstein

Dancing on the Water features a collection of solo piano performances by Bob James plus duets by James with a diverse array of artists, including bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Chuck Loeb, and pianists Keiku Matsui and Joe Sample. James wrote nine songs on the CD -- everything except "Alone Together" and "Last Night When We Were Young." Four songs ("The Green Hour," "Bogie's Boogie," "Hum Drum," and "Modesty") receive the benefit of James performing solo on acoustic piano. His duet with Keiko Matsui, "Altair and Vega," is an eight-minute masterpiece featuring exceptional interplay between the pianists. The sweet melodies along with fine, balanced technique and tremolo earn this duet high marks. Piano and bass duets by James and Dave Holland are featured on "Last Night When We Were Young" and "Autumn Nocture"; both songs strike an artful balance with rhythmic improvisations that reflect the duo's award-winning jazz styles in a complementary setting. Chuck Loeb expands his awareness of jazz guitar on the title track, "Dancing on the Water." His joyful interpretations and subtle surprises make the music of the acclaimed jazz pianist sound fresh and new. Two tracks with Joe Sample, "Alone Together" and "Tapawingo," exhibit the emotive and superbly inventive bebop-based compositions at the hands of two masters. Their crisp, flowing lines and intricate melodic voicings reflect the influence of such jazz icons as Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner. This is an excellent CD and Bob James continues his exceptional musical dialogues with more pronounced affection for traditional jazz styles than on previous releases.

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