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R James | Elizabeth's Dream

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Jeff Golub Larry Carlton Lee Ritenour

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United States - California - SF

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Jazz: Soul-Jazz Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Elizabeth's Dream

by R James

His dedication and appreciation of varied styles and disciplines on each track clearly sings throughout his guitar work. His unique signature sound is driven by a mature and melodic style, a welcome addition to the contemporary jazz scene.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cali Breeze
4:04 $0.99
2. Road to Heart
4:32 $0.99
3. Stay With Me
2:54 $0.99
4. Elizabeth's Dream
4:22 $0.99
5. Savanna
4:12 $0.99
6. Twilight
3:48 $0.99
7. Cool Groove
3:24 $0.99
8. 580 East
4:17 $0.99
9. Montgomery Land
4:32 $0.99
10. Inner Light
4:01 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
San Francisco Bay Area guitarist and composer R James brings a uniquely expressive and melodic style to the contemporary jazz scene. To quote veteran producer Paul Brown, "you have your own voice."

R James was highly influenced in study and deep appreciation of the wide range of styles represented by Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Larry Carlton, Jeff Golub and Lee Ritenour.

His songwriting efforts led to winning the Bethlehem Jazz Contest in 2000, which featured the original "Montgomery Land" also appearing on his debut album "Elizabeth's Dream". R James' composition style has been described as wide ranging and similar to artists such as Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, Bob James, and Pat Metheny along with the harmony influences of Steely Dan.

His debut CD “Elizabeth’s Dream” produced by Paul Brown, is driven by the mature and melodic style that R James masterfully demonstrates throughout this album. His is an exciting new voice coming to contemporary jazz.



to write a review

Lynne Menefee

A "Dream" Come True
Composer and jazz guitarist R James has stepped out from the jazz music scene of the San Francisco Bay area and is sharing his talents with everyone. The titular song on his debut album, “Elizabeth’s Dream,” is an apt title. His wife, Elizabeth, encouraged and worked with him on this “dream” project that I suspect was not hers alone. James wrote or co-wrote all of the songs with the exception of the timely addition of a contemporary hit that shot its singer to super stardom. Breakout British pop singer Sam Smith won four Grammys this year with the song “Stay With Me,” including Record and Song of the Year, which he co-wrote with Tom Petty, James Napier and William Phillips. Here, James gives it both a jazzy and haunting gospel spin with vocals by Dee and Brittani Cole.

West Coast jazz has always had its own breezy, carefree sound perhaps best exemplified by the late saxophonist Bud Shank. R James captures that California feeling, encompassing a wide range of jazz styles from funk to boss nova. While James’ influences include such legendary jazz guitarists and composers as Wes Montgomery, Lee Ritenour, Bob James, and Pat Metheny, he has his own distinct, mellow and soulful sound. He smartly chose Grammy-winning producer, Paul Brown, to guide this project as well as a stellar cast of supporting musicians who have worked with jazz/pop superstars ranging from Al Jarreau, Santana, Sheila E to Rick Braun, among many others.

A definite highlight is “Montgomery Land” for which he won the Bethlehem Jazz Contest in 2000. It captures the essence of the Wes Montgomery style while standing on its own. If you believe behind every great man is a great woman then thank goodness that the faith in her husband’s talents has made “Elizabeth’s Dream” come true for R James and jazz lovers alike.

The New Face of Jazz--Cicily

Shine on...
Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, guitarist R James brings his warm, yet sophisticated voice into the contemporary jazz scene with his debut album, “Elizabeth’s Dream.” Supported and produced by award-winning artist and producer Paul Brown, this album is the culmination of nearly two-and-a half years of work. Top-notch Bay Area musicians played a large part on the album and behind the scenes to ensure that R James produced the very best representation of his skill and masterful artistry.
The album includes styles reminiscent of James’ biggest influences including Wes Montgomery and Larry Carlton. In the track titled, Montgomery Land, the influential style of Wes Montgomery is painted from the first bar on. More in the traditional swing form with contemporary highlights bring this track to the forefront of this album. R James’ diversity in the various jazz styles is clear. However, traditional swing is just one forte featured in this album.
Tracks such as Savanna and Inner Light create an ambient and relaxing break from some of the harder and energizing grooves found in the tracks of Cool Groove and 580 East. Particularly notable is his use of tight and perfectly accentuated horns throughout the album, especially on 580 East. This track has the potential to hit the top of the charts with its distinctive groove and memorable pizazz.

From the succulent cover of Sam Smith’s mega-hit Stay with Me to the laid-back yet impassioned original title track, Elizabeth’s Dream every sound bite on this debut is truly an indulgence for even the most discerning listeners. It’s no wonder he has won awards such as the Bethlehem Jazz Contest. His compositional talent rivals some of the very best artists today on the West Coast contemporary jazz scene.

R James is one of the brightest voices to hit the contemporary scene in the recent past. If “Elizabeth’s Dream” is any indication as to the level of talent and refinement the contemporary jazz community can expect on future projects, he will fast become a chart-topping and sought-after artist for any fan of contemporary jazz.


Smooth Sophistication
I'm so happy to have stumbled onto RJames' work. This cd is crossed with smooth and funk jazz. I'm not sure which is my favorite on this cd. Is it "Inner Lights" mystic jazz sound or the jazz funk of "Cool Groove". It doesn't matter. I've had the pleasure of enjoying this cd in full! If you love jazz, you definitely have to check RJames' work out! I can't wait to hear the next one!

Sandy Shore

SmoothJazz.com Review
With a crisp, melodic and masterful electric guitar style reminiscent of Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton and the late Jeff Golub, San Francisco Bay Area guitarist R James brings to contemporary jazz a fresh new voice, complete with Steely Dan-like harmonies and some colorful traditional jazz leanings. Helmed by two time Grammy winning producer Paul Brown, James’ old school soul-jazz flavored debut ELIZABETH’S DREAM includes a thoughtful Sam Smith cover ("Stay With Me") and a tune which was chosen winner of the Bethlehem Jazz Contest ("Montgomery Land"). Happily ensconced in guitar heaven, you won’t want to wake from ELIZABETH’S DREAM! ~ Jonathan Widran

Kathryn Ballard-Shut (TimKat Entertainment) Denver. Co

In The Pocket
CoffeeTalk JAZZ Radio
March 23rd 2015
Reviewer: Kathryn Ballard-Shut / Posted By Ms. Bridgette Lewis CoffeeTalk JAZZ Radio Los Angeles, CA 90045
R James Fulfills Elizabeth’s Dream
The San Francisco Bay Area-based composer-guitarist delights on ten original tracks featured on debut album, “Elizabeth’s Dream”, supported by veteran two-time Grammy-winning producer, Paul Brown.
On a recent live interview with Ms. Bridgette Lewis of Coffee Talk Jazz Radio, Mr. R James, (informally known as “Jim”), shared that through his composing, he endeavors to “be able to reach into [his] soul and pull out the notes that sing to [him] as a person”, and on his debut album, Elizabeth’s Dream, an intelligent mixture of both classic and contemporary jazz originals, he has done exactly that.
Named in dedication to his wife, Elizabeth, who first inspired him to share his talent with the world at large, Elizabeth’s Dream stands in witness to this deep motivation that brought R James out of musical obscurity and into the limelight of deeply professional musicianship. The sweet, tender, intelligently-written, and captivating release features a soulful and rich jazz guitar voice that is expertly supported by a multitude of jazz titans, all hailing from both the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Furthermore, within the album’s ten instrumental tracks, R James offers an ample exploration of a variety of jazz and funk styles -- ranging from a classic jazz waltz, to Latin-influenced grooves, all the way to funk and soul flavors.
Elizabeth’s Dream indeed cast the dream team of musicians, including pianist/keyboard wizards Robert Damper (Kenny G) and David K. Matthews (Tower of Power); bassists Emanuel Wells, Victor Little (Patti Austin), Troy Lampkins (Temptations), Marc Van Wageningen, (Sheila E, Dianne Reeves), and Roberto Vally (Bobby Caldwell); drummer Brian Collier (Santana); two-time Grammy-winning producer, co-composer, and session percussionist Paul Brown (Euge Groove, Larry Carlton, Richard Elliott), veteran percussionist Derek Rolando (Sheila E, Santana), brass master Lee Thornburg (Ray Charles, Tower of Power), bari & and tenor saxman Greg Vail (Rick Braun, Peter White, Al Jarreau) and vocalists Dee and Brittani Cole of Elament Music Group (EMG), together with EMG bandmate, Lew Laing, Jr. (Coolio), as co-composer on several tracks.
R James models much of his style after intense study and detailed interpretation of the clean melodic lines and compositions of the legendary Wes Montgomery, and in fact admits that he tends to work primarily in a melodic framework as a guitarist.
As early as his teenage years, Jim studied and modeled his style and touch after the guitar giant. Fans of the guitar legend will immediately witness that homage on the tender and original jazz waltz entitled “Montgomery Land.” The piece is centered in C minor; however, the keen ear will recognize a subtle tonal underpinning in the turnaround similar to the minor/major surprise shift in the Jerome Kern classic, “All The Things You Are” (1939). Each of these elements, together with the tight classic rhythm section, immediately take us back in time to Montgomery’s heyday of the 1950s-1960’s. Jim’s approach to melody also makes every note count on this and every track on the album -- there is no fumbling, no filler, no aimless wandering in hopes of hitting the “pretty notes”; rather, Jim’s execution allows a flawless and spiritual voice to soar, respectfully commanding the listener’s attention.
As mentioned, Elizabeth’s Dream cleverly encompasses the jazz spectrum and beckons us to get ready for a great musical road trip over the course of a perfect day. The opening track, “Cali Breeze”, delivers exactly what the modern bossa nova’s title suggests – against the backdrop of a gorgeous, sunny, and breezy Sunday, we slowly cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway in our convertible with the top down and feeling completely carefree. “Road To Heart” pushes our foot to the pedal just slightly with a break-beat funk, reminiscent in flavor to Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” On the third track, we pull off the highway and stroll into a roadside church, thankful for the wonderful day, with the sole vocal offering on the album, a gospel-infused” Stay With Me”. Next, on the light and funky Elizabeth’s Dream, we hop back into the car with a couple of new horn-playing friends whom we met at church, only to watch the skies darken just a bit, tinged with the wistful minor of the tune’s melancholy melody and bittersweet horn lines.
The clouds part to offer the last bit of daylight with the bright samba “Savanna” and the sun begins to set with the sweet rhumba, “Twilight”. Day finally turns to night as we find a club where we can dance to the full funk and the group’s harder, edgier sound on “Cool Groove”. Finally, after our feet tire from dancing all night, we retire to “580 East” to relax with cool drinks and a late dinner, before finally capping off the night with the project’s tribute to classic jazz on “Montgomery Land”. After an amazing day, we finally crawl into bed, reflect on the perfection of the music we experienced, pray that tomorrow be just as fantastic, and peacefully close our eyes to “Inner Light”. A perfect end to a perfect day, ushered by a perfect ensemble every step of the way.