This CD reissue features some typical pop/jazz from keyboardist/arranger/composer Bob James. James often uses his musicians as a prop, adding some coloring by having short solos by Grover Washington, Jr.'s soprano (whose two appearances are easily this set's high points), and guitarists Hiram Bullock and Bruce Dunlap. An oversized rhythm section, a large horn section, and strings fail to uplift the pleasant but lightweight music much. James plays well enough but no real chances are taken on this obviously commercial effort.
Bob James H was released in 1980 on his Tappan Zee imprint during his great run that began with Touchdown in 1978. Its immediate predecessor is the One on One duet album with Earl Klugh. James recorded it in the same way he'd been making records since joining CTI in the early 1970s: with a large, all-star studio group paired with a couple of top-flight soloists. The former group included trumpeter Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, and Eddie Daniels; the latter features Grover Washington, Jr., Hiram Bullock, Airto Moreira, and Buddy Williams. Of course, hovering over everything is James' trademark piano, full of lovely if rote grooves and fills. The music revolves around breezy, easy themes and colorations, where the new contemporary (later, "smooth") jazz met lithe cinematic-style orchestral themes with some neat and tidy funk overtones. "Brighton by the Sea," with a tough soprano solo by Washington is a great example. Airto's hand percussion plays counterpoint to Williams drums, Gary King's deep, fretless, funk bassline holds the groove and Grover moves right into it, and then soars above it.
Days of FreeMan is a retrospective album that picks up where Divine Travels ended, further exploring the identity of saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. The album is a soundscape inspired by and channeling, but not duplicating, the fragmented sounds of his early childhood days in Buffalo, NY, on Freeman Street, where his ears were washed with early '90s hip-hop. Through sound, each track explores vital themes of earlier times and today - social, political, scientific and religious. On Days of FreeMan, Lewis is joined by electric bass legend Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer Rudy Royston. James Brandon Lewis was raised in the church, which formed the core of the saxophonist's spiritual outlook. While many musicians are inspired by the church, Lewis says that it's most important impact was not musical but personal, laying the foundation for his creative approach.