In the world of Smooth Jazz, Fourplay ranks up with the Traveling Wilburys as one of the greatest compiled Supergroups of all-time. Lee Ritenour on guitar, Bob James on keyboards, Nathan East on bass, and Harvey Mason on drums formed the original lineup back in 1991. Since then the group has shuffled some members and Larry Carlton and Chuck Loeb (guitar) and the saxophone master Kirk Whalum have been part of Fourplay. Now on their 27th anniversary, the Jazz quartet is currently on hiatus. While known for their instrumental jazz classics, the band has featured a few superstar lead singers on their albums. Let’s check out three of the best vocalists to grace a Fourplay LP:
WHY CAN’T IT WAIT TILL MORNING
The piano-driven classic from Phil Collins’ second album, “Hello I Must Be Going” gets the Smooth Jazz treatment. While the original version is haunting in the simplicity of the arrangement, there is something magical in the reworked version with Fourplay. It appeared on their third album, “Elixir” which also featured a version of “The Closer I Get To You” by Peabo Bryson and Patti Austin.
AFTER THE DANCE
On their debut album, the quartet took on the Marvin Gaye slow dance masterpiece, “After The Dance”. The group enlisted R&B singer, El DeBarge, who turned in a soft and soulful version of the Motown gem. There is a grainy YouTube music video of the song but I’m going with the cleaner audio take here.
MY LOVE’S LEAVIN’ Inexplicably, the band’s ninth album is named X (which is 10 in Roman numerals?). The crowning vocal moment on the release was “My Love’s Leavin”, a track from Steve Winwood’s “Back In The High Life” album. The remake added the one-time lead singer of the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, on vocals. I’m partial to the Fourplay version over Winwood’s solo effort.