With its first album, the instrumental quartet Fourplay has broken a longstanding Billboard magazine chart record.
The self-titled Warner Bros. label release, which features guitarist Lee Ritenour, keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason, has topped the trade magazine's contemporary jazz charts for 27 weeks. "Fourplay" eclipses the 25-week mark at No. 1 set in 1981 by saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.'s "Winelight" album.
But in contrast to Washington, an established artist with a string of pop hits when he topped the charts, this is the group's debut. What makes the record-breaking run even more impressive is that the band only recently began to tour in support of the album.
The album is approaching sales of 500,000 units, a figure that is no surprise to Ricky Schultz, vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Jazz.
"It was apparent from the first time I heard it that this was a very good record that had a lot of depth. There weren't just two or three good songs and the rest filler," Schultz said of the collection, which includes 10 easygoing instrumentals and one vocal--a version of Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance," sung by El DeBarge.
While the vocal, which was released as a single and briefly made the Billboard R&B charts, gave the album "another dimension," said Schultz, it was the fact that "Fourplay" "had a lot going for it in the pop-jazz market that has given it longevity."
Response to the Sept. 17 release of "Fourplay" was immediate, said Schultz. "The album exploded and we began to see sales, and gain national acceptance on radio right away," he said. The album was on the New Adult Contemporary chart in Radio & Records, the music industry's key publication for determining radio play, for four months, and was at No. 1 for several weeks.
Rim Shots: "Jazz Showcase," airing Mondays at 8 p.m., is a new monthly radio show on KLON-FM (88.1) that features live performances by deserving talent broadcast from the Nugget, a nightclub on the Cal State Long Beach campus. . . . Bassist Red Callender will be honored Saturday at a memorial tribute at the Proud Bird Restaurant in Inglewood from 1 to 4 p.m. Callender's family requests that donations be sent to the Los Angeles Mission, P.O. Box 5630, Los Angeles 90055.
Critic's Choice: Composer-saxophonist Benny Golson makes a rare appearance Sunday at the second Inner City Jazz and Blues Party, at the Pacifica Hotel in Culver City.