Bob James wrote the theme to Taxi, which seals his fame in my book! No, but (more) seriously, he’s one of Quincy Jones’s discoveries, in a long Quincy Jones career of discovering people; James pioneered the use of electronic keyboards and synthesizers in mostly mainstream jazz; his fans include Ghostface Killah, Run-D.M.C., and LL Cool J, who have all sampled his revelatory cover of Paul Simon’s “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” (think of that tinkling groove you hear in Run-D.M.C.’s “Peter Piper,” LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells,” and, bless my soul, Missy Elliott’s “Work It”); and he titled his early albums with weird references to numbers. Check him out with guitarist Perry Hughes, drummer Billy Kilson, and bassist Michael Palazzolo. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear that “Rock the Bells” bit thrown in with a grin. ANDREW HAMLIN
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