Picks and Pans Review: Fourplay

UPDATED 03/30/1992 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/30/1992 at 01:00 AM EST


Tasteful, smooth, sleek, slick...it's a slippery slope you get onto trying to describe music as polished and polite and syrupy and somnolent and sanitized as this chart-topping, mind-numbing jazz-rock.

The four perpetrators—pianist Bob James, guitarist Lee Ritenour, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason—are all heavily decorated recording studio veterans: gold and platinum albums, Grammy nominations (and a few Grammys), assorted accolades and a sterling list of stars whose albums they've produced or played on. They describe Fourplay in ambitious terms. "It's always been a fantasy to form a cooperative group where there was no leader ... all voices were equal," says James. Ritenour elaborates: "Bob's original idea was a performance quartet, a la, maybe even, the Modern Jazz Quartet of the '50s revisited in the '90s..."

Dream on. This, unfortunately, is elevator music, as safe and slight as it is nominally adroit and tokenly eclectic (some sparkly jazz-funk in "Max-0-Man,"a little training-wheels reverie in "Quadrille"). It's pretty and (here's that slippery slope again) precious and passionless. This Fourplay is unconsummated. (Warner Bros.)

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