Fourplay have been doing what they do -- expertly -- for more than a decade now. Heartfelt gives these four smooth-jazz heroes -- keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Larry Carlton, bassist Nathan East, and drummer Harvey Mason -- a chance to show that familiarity hasn’t worn down a good thing. The accessible, mellow-grooving performances that fans depend on are still in abundance (“Rollin’,” “Galaxia,” “That’s the Time,” “Break It Out”), as are the warm ballads (“Heartfelt,” “Making Up”) that add variety to the project. The group also knows how to make the most of shifting textures, weaving acoustic and electronic instruments together into a mellifluous whole. A lovely surprise also comes with Nathan East’s delightful vocals on the poppy “Let’s Make Love” (produced by Harvey Mason’s son). In all, Heartfelt gives this Rolls-Royce of a contemporary jazz band room to roam, and indeed proves that there’s still plenty of mileage left in their creative engine.
Performance CreditsFourplay Primary Artist
Larry Carlton Guitar,Group Member
Bob James Keyboards
Nathan East Bass,Vocals,Group Member
Harvey Mason Drums,Group Member
Technical CreditsFourplay Producer
Ken Freeman Programming,Producer,Engineer
Don Murray Engineer
Dave Russell Engineer
Harvey Mason Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As wonderful and as seductive as contemporary polished jazz can be, it's often pretty slight and forgettable. That's definitely not the case with this album. With Heartfelt, Fourplay has not only broken away from the Warner label for Bluebird, but has ripped free from their increasingly conservative template of delivering smooth, romantic jazz in exchange for a much more experimental - and satisfactory - undertaking. From the opening overdriven guitar lick and entrancing piano melody of the ethereal, longing "Galaxia," the restrictive label of "smooth jazz" is immediately tossed out the window. The LP quickly then shifts into the epic "That's the Time," by contrast a tightly-constructed and pulsating piece projected by a beautiful interchange of rhythm and melody phrasing that leaves nothing to be desired. For the most part, the rest of Heartfelt delightfully backs these two pieces up with justice - the snarl of "Cafe l'Amour," the bright catchiness of "Karma," and the downright classic jazz traditionalism of "Tally Ho!" open up a lot of room for soloing - which Yes, Please lacked - and exploration for each virtuoso. Essentially, these pieces stand out with their unique and memorable melodies and original production. It's not the perfect record, but it does stand a head above the rest of the industry's production because of its musical strength and artistic earnestness.