Heartfelt

Who says contemporary jazz can't be as spontaneous and intrinsically creative as traditional jazz, while still retaining the melodic sensibilities that endear it to radio? Not Fourplay, which reinvent

Who says contemporary jazz can't be as spontaneous and intrinsically creative as traditional jazz, while still retaining the melodic sensibilities that endear it to radio? Not Fourplay, which reinvents its smooth, R&B-based sound while breaking down the parameters of how contemporary jazz is composed and recorded. The material was largely improvised in the recording studio, with the resulting jams edited into cohesive compositions. As a result, keyboardist Bob James, drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Nathan East, and guitarist Larry Carlton have never played with more impassioned freedom on a group effort. Still, the final editing process gives the band a set of highly melodic songs that will alienate neither radio nor longtime fans. East's lead vocal bow on the sultry "Let's Make Love" (the only song brought to the sessions in complete form) was co-written with Babyface and sounds primed for multi-format airplay.—SG