Guitarist/keyboardist James Mason is generally best remembered as a key member of Roy Ayers’ late-70s jazz-funk group, during which he made prominent appearances on the Ayers’ LP Lifeline, particularly the club hit “Running Away.” His only solo record , titled Rhythm Of Life, was recorded with session legends such as Narada Michael Walden, Gene Torres, and Clarice Taylor, and released in 1977. The album was not a success, and suffered from poor timing as tastes had shifted away from jazz music. The record seemed destined for obscurity, as its meager printing quickly ran out, and Mason never released a follow-up.
Over time however, Rhythm Of Life has taken on a new life of its own, as an unheralded jazz classic. The album’s rich, textured sound, robust, funky arrangements, and Mason’s solid guitar and keys work was integral to the development of the acid jazz movement of the 1990s. Tracks like “Slick City” and “Sweet Power Your Embrace” would go on to become rare-groove standards in their own rite, while “Free” has become a sampling favorite of hip-hop innovator Madlib.