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.
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.
Two of James' songs – "Nautilus" and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" from 1975's, are among the most sampled in hip hop history. "Nautilus" has been most famously sampled in Eric B. & Rakim's "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em", Run-D.M.C.'s "Beats to the Rhyme", Ghostface Killah's "Daytona 500" and Jeru the Damaja's "My Mind Spray" amongst many others and the notes of "Nautilus'" bassline were played on a keyboard for Slick Rick's "Children's Story". The first four measures of "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" (a Paul Simon original) includes a bell and drum groove that is one of hip hop's fundamental breakbeats.
One of my faves from Bob James is "Spunky". Moodymann sample this song on one of his best productions "Shades Of Jae"..
Bob James - Spunky