Personnel: Nathan East (vocals); Bob James (piano, keyboards); Scott Williamson (drums); Rafael Padilla (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Bryan Lenox.
Recording information: Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN; House of Blues Studio, Nashville, TN; Ocean Way Nashville, Nashville, TN; The Tracking Room, Nashville, TN; Yamaha Entertainment Group Studios, Franklin, TN.
Photographer: Alysse Gafkjen.
Recorded in five studios in Nashville and nearby Franklin, Tennessee, The New Cool is something of a follow-up to Nathan East's self-titled 2014 album, though it's billed to the bassist and his fellow Fourplay member, Bob James. Like Nathan East, The New Cool is a Yamaha release. The label wing of the manufacturer also supplied the duo with instruments and enabled them to make this predominantly acoustic set of eight originals and three interpretations. Drummer Scott Williamson, percussionist Rafael Padilla, and an orchestra -- with David Davidson as concertmaster -- are all involved, yet they're employed sparingly and leave the spotlight to East and James. The album sounds like it was easy and fun to make -- one can sense joy and deep focus in the interplay -- as the material is predominantly amiable and laid-back. It's almost entirely instrumental, with East adding some occasional soft scatting, while Vince Gill drops by for the lone "proper" vocal inclusion on an elegant recasting of Willie Nelson's "Crazy." Just when it seems as if The New Cool will end as it began, in sunny and mellow form, the closing "Turbulence" develops into what's easily the album's most active cut. Composer James lets loose with some athletic electric piano, East's bass is at its taut and melodic best, and Williamson, known most for his work on contemporary country and Christian sessions, shows that he can also hang with two crucial jazz rhythm-section dignitaries. This is a pleasant, if inessential, addition to the catalogs of the two musicians. ~ Andy Kellman