On this day in music history: October 16, 1979 – “One On One” by Bob James & Earl Klugh is released. Produced by Bob James, it is recorded at Mediasound Studios, Sound Palace Studios and SoundMixers Studios in New York City in Mid 1979. Both well established artists individually, musicians Bob James and Earl Klugh decide to record an album together. The idea for the collaboration comes after Klugh appears as a guest musician on James’ 1978 album “Touchdown”. CBS Records executive Bruce Lundvall suggests that the two musicians make an album. Writing three songs each for their proposed duet album, James and Klugh are joined in the studio by a group of ace jazz players including Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Neil Jason, Gary King (electric bass), Harvey Mason (drums), Eric Gale (electric guitar), Hubert Laws (flute), Ralph MacDonald (percussion) and David Nadien (violin). Bob James’ graceful touch on the acoustic and electric pianos, along with Earl Klugh’s lyrical acoustic guitar playing are an inspired pairing. The recording goes very smoothly and swiftly, with the band recording two songs a day, live without any additional overdubs. The album’s opening track “Kari” written by Klugh, is an immediate stand out, and begins receiving airplay on jazz, R&B and even some pop stations. With James very much in the public eye after scoring a hit with “Angela (Theme From Taxi)” earlier in the year, fans embrace the “One On One” album. “Kari” wins the duo a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1981. Other highlights on the album include “Mallorca”, “Love Lips” and “I’ll Never See You Smile Again”. The album’s unique and quirky cover art also stands out immediately. Designed to look like an over sized book of matches, the front of the matte finished gatefold sleeve features two matches left in the book, with the track listing and other credits printed on the back. The success of the album inspires two more duet albums between Bob James and Earl Klugh, “Two Of A Kind” in 1982 and “Cool” in 1992. Originally released on CD in 1982 by CBS/Sony, it is remastered and reissued by Essential/Castle Communications in 1996. It’s reissued again when James’ catalog is distributed by Koch Records in 2006. In 2009, the album is licensed to Salvo Records in the UK, and features a previously unreleased outtake from the original sessions, and a brief conversation with Bob James and Earl Klugh. “One On One” spends twelve weeks at number one on the Billboard Jazz album chart, peaking at number twenty three on the R&B album chart, number twenty six on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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