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Jazz Buyer's Guide - Bob James

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Buyer's Guide - Bob James
Jazz Buyer's Guide - Bob James

Bob James

Photo By Michael Verity
Robert McElhiney James -- known to jazz fans simply as Bob James -- was born on Christmas Day, 1939, in Marshall, Missouri. His first piano teacher was Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Mercy Academy, who recognized James' prodigious talent and perfect pitch. He first played professionally at 8 years old, accompanying a tap dance class at the school before allegedly being fired for not being able to keep time over the sound of the tap shoes.

After spending time at University of Michigan and the Berklee School of Music, James started the Bob James Trio in 1962. From 1965 to 1968, he played with Sarah Vaughan before starting to work as a session musician. Along with working extensively on sessions for Hubert Laws, he recorded with Paul Desmond and Ron Carter and collaborated with the likes of David Sanborn, Earl Klugh and Kirk Whalum.

He's also recorded 29 solo albums dating back to his debut, One, in 1974. Since then, he's become a smooth jazz legend but hasn't forgotten his roots, either. What are the best five records from his repertoire to include your collection? Read on for our Buyer's Guide to Bob James.

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