Robert McElhiney "Bob" James (born December 25, 1939) is an American two-time Grammy Award-winning smooth jazz keyboardist, arranger and producer. He is recognized as one of the original founders of smooth jazz, is renowned for the complexity of his arrangements and instrumentals, and his work is frequently sampled.
During the 1970s, Bob James played a major role in turning fusion jazz more mainstream. "Angela", the instrumental theme from the sitcom Taxi, is probably Bob James' most well-known work to date, He is also well-known for the fusion classics 'Nautilus' and 'Westchester Lady', the latter from the album Bob James Three.
For their first joint album release, One on One, Earl Klugh and Bob James received a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981. James is the founding member of smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay and is a Yamaha Artist.
Very influenced by pop and movie music, James has often featured soloists, who add a jazz touch to his sound (most notably Grover Washington, Jr.). While best known for his fusion sound, James began In 1962, recording 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, appearing with Stanley Turrentine and Milt Jackson on the 1972 album Cherry and with Turrentine on his following album Don't Mess with Mister T. (1973), and that same year 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 collborations with Earl Klugh and David Sanborn.