' recordings have practically defined pop/jazz and crossover during the past few decades. Very influenced by pop and movie music, James
has often featured R&B-ish soloists (most notably Grover Washington, Jr.
) who add a jazz touch to what is essentially an instrumental pop set. He actually started out in music going in a much different direction. In 1962, James
recorded a bop-ish trio set for Mercury, and three years later his album for ESP was quite avant-garde, with electronic tapes used for effects. After a period with Sarah Vaughan
(1965-1968), he became a studio musician, and by 1973 was arranging and working as a producer for CTI. In 1974, James
recorded his first purely commercial effort as a leader; he later made big-selling albums for his own Tappan Zee label, Columbia, and Warner Bros., including collaborations with Earl Klugh
and David Sanborn
remains relatively busy in the studio and since 2000 has released several albums including Dancing on the Water
in 2001, That Steamin' Feelin'
in 2002, Hi-Fi
in 2003, and Urban Flamingo
in 2006, among others. In 2011, he joined pianist Keiko Matsui for Altair & Vega. Two years later, he delivered his second collaboration with saxophonist David Sanborn
, 2013's Quartette Humaine. In 2015, James
paired with bassist Nathan East on the laid-back studio-session, The New Cool.