Bob James – Kankiyu

The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days in Marshall, Missouri, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

In September, 2011 Altair & Vega, the four-hand piano duet collaboration with Keiko Matsui, was finally released. This unique collaboration which started 10 years ago, had already resulted in several memorable live tour performances, but Bob & Keiko had long hoped that this music would eventually result in a commercially released CD. They got even better than that when E-1 agreed to the concept of including a live performance DVD from a performance at Manchester Craftsmens Guild. Bob & Keiko plan to tour in 2012 showcasing this project.

This album is a good starting point to recapitulate Bob James’ work as painter. The album reminds me of his image Kankiyu, showcasing the four-hand piano playing. During the event Dave McMurray and Friends at the Apollo Theater in London-Hammersmith I had the opportunity to attend his Art exhibition. Today’s it’s very difficult to find any information about the painting talent of the great musician. His website offers currently no information about Bob’s art work. A good reason to present this picture.

Bob James commented his passion for visual art with these words:

Through much of my life I have had an on-and-off flirtation with the visual arts, my desire to create visually more often than not being pushed to the background by my passion for music; the adventure of jazz in particular. I know there must be many similarities in what drives some people to need to create. Whether it be music, painting, ….. theater, dance. The desire to explore uncharted territory can become an obsession that only will be satisfied by creating.”

The images were created on a Macintosh laptop computer, the canvas was a digital drawing tablet, and the studio was anywhere Bob happened to be when inspiration came; frequently during spare time on his concert tours. Whether it was in the back of the tour bus, the tray table of a plane, backstage dressing room, or a hotel room, his palette came from the application software, and the subject matter ranged from his musician comrades with whom he spend a large percentage of his time, recording and performing concerts here in the U.S., Europe and in Japan, to photographs, scans of old newspaper clippings and video still frames. Once the raw material (sketches) had been assembled they were altered and manipulated, utilizing the endless variety of choices the computer makes available.

I connect the publication of this picture with the hope in Bob’s return to the visual art.