Fourplay - Between the Sheets

"Between the Sheets," is Fourplay's sophomore effort, originally released back in August of 1993 when smooth jazz had made its way into popular culture. With a lineup that reads like a who's who of the genre the album showcases the refined talents of Bob James on piano, Lee Ritenour strumming the guitar, Nathan East both crooning and plucking the bass, and Harvey Mason keeping beat on the drums. This collection of tracks not only soared to the lofty heights of number 2 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart but also swaggered its way to gold certification by the RIAA, with over half a million copies finding homes in the United States alone. Its acclaim was, shall we say, enthusiastically unanimous.

Now, high-resolution immersionists are treated to a special 30th-anniversary remastered edition of this classic album on Hybrid stereo/multichannel SACD, which includes a new 5.1 surround mix. Additionally, a download edition is available in Dolby Atmos too. For those unacquainted with the quartet's polished smooth jazz stellar sound, brace yourselves for an aural experience that is sumptuously delightful.

Among its treasures is the titular track "Between the Sheets," a slow, syrupy ballad that features the legendary Chaka Khan, adding a layer of velvety vocals to the mix, supported by an ensemble of notable voices including Chante Moore, Phil Perry, and Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey. Then there's "Amoroso," where sprightliness meets sparkle in its effervescent jazz solos, and "Chant," a Bob James number that's as refined as a glass of aged Bordeaux.

Across the album one can hear the kind of slinky grooves you'd expect to find in the VIP lounge of a high-end audiophile convention. The track is an enveloping mist of keyboard runs by Bob James and the signature understated guitar licks from Lee Ritenour. Meanwhile, Nathan East’s bass lines aren’t just heard; they’re felt in the chest, thanks to the marvels of high-resolution audio that seem to elevate his smooth bass vibrations into a near-tactile experience.

Let’s not forget Harvey Mason’s drum work, which in this album acts like the polite butler of beats—always there, meticulously timed and never overstepping its boundaries. His rhythms provide a lush carpet where the rest of the instruments parade their opulence. It is a classic Fourplay setup: meticulously crafted, smooth as aged whiskey, comfortably predictable, yet still very endearing.

In “Between the Sheets,” Fourplay has delivered a lavish sound feast that is mixed to awe with its sound quality. In essence, it is a perfect background score for those evenings when you want to pretend your living room is a swanky downtown jazz club, minus the cover charge and pricey cocktails. Recommended for smooth jazz lovers, sonic seekers, and spatial mix enthusiasts.

This edition released March 15, 2024

 

 Format Info

Hybrid SACD with 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo DSD layers, also available as a Dolby Atmos download file.  Alternate mastering available via streaming platforms.

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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