Meeting Bob James at a music store in LA:
By Ralph Burnett
Landing a major record deal as a debut artist is slightly easier than growing hair on your toenails and as likely as finding a rhyme for the word "orange". It takes an incredible amount of talent and an even greater dose of luck. Fortunately, for Bulgarian born Mario Grigorov, he had both. "Three days after arriving in America, I was playing keyboards at a music store in Los Angeles," Grigorov recounts. "I would do one part, record if on a Yamaha Disklavier, play it back and accompany myself on another piano. I was so absorbed in what I was doing, I had no idea that Bob James had walked into the store and was listening."
Many who know Bob James as a legendary keyboardist through his string of successful solo albums and as a member of the group Fourplay, may not know that he is also an A&R executive for Warner Bros. Records. "We went into the back of the store," continues Grigorov, "and I played him five more compositions. He recorded them then and there." Within days, Grigorov was offered a recording contract. "I heard that America was the land of opportunity," he laughs, "but this was ridiculous."
On Rhymes With Orange (Reprise 9 45679 2), Thirty year old Mario Grigorov articulates a musical vision that indeed measures up to the albums sly title. To save you the time it takes alphabet-surf, (Arange, Borange, Corange . . .), nothing, of course, rhymes with orange. It is similarly appropriate to say that nothing quite compares to the innovative, intricate and unique stylings of Mario's music, in which strict classical agility and dexterity flow into the freedom and improvisatory power of blues and jazz. It is not known how radio will categorize or react to this music, but I can say that it becomes more amazing with each listen.
Hey Mario, is that hair on your toenails?