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Jazz - Released June 12, 2020 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released May 4, 2015 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released September 1, 2017 | Concord Records

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Saxophonist and composer Boney James has been on a roll during the second decade of the 21st century. His three studio albums -- Contact, The Beat, and Futuresoul -- have all topped the jazz charts (the later for 11 weeks); in addition, the first decade netted another in Shake It Up, as well as a handful of number twos. Honestly is his 16th album, and finds him celebrating his 25th anniversary as a solo artist after stints with Morris Day and the Isley Brothers. While his tone and phrasing are instantly recognizable, the production aesthetic on Honestly differs considerably from Futuresoul. Arrangements are a bit sparser, leaving more room for each instrument in the mix: his horn, keys, and drum programming, as well as the session players on guitars, basses, and other keyboards, including a lovely Rhodes piano on the airy opener "Kicks." Vocalist Avery Sunshine assists on the title track single, a lyric presentation of neo-soul that dovetails with the contemporary jazz aesthetic. She is resonant and sultry as James adds ballast in his saxophone fills and synth tags. "Tick Tock" is the instrumental single co-produced Jarius Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke). Not only does it dig into contemporary R&B, it harkens back to the glory days of CTI and Kudu with its lush horn section, grand piano fills, and James pulling out his best Grover Washington, Jr. in his funky phrasing and solo. "On the Prowl uses a B-3 and a celeste to get at a film noir vibe with guitars accenting blues changes in a minor key as James blows a nocturnal melody. "We Came to Party" has an early Earth Wind & Fire feel, as it lays back through the opening lyrics and choruses to break wide open during the solo saxophone to become a beat-conscious celebration. The biggest surprise is a spectral yet lovely cover of Hoagy Carmichael's standard "Skylark," delivered with restraint and elegance. With an acoustic piano at the forefront, James' horn delivers a contemporary urban tinge. It's followed by another understated soul jam, "If I Can't Hold You," with a fine lead vocal by Eric Roberson. The album closes with "Up All Night," a party jam with slapped basslines, tight, funky, locking rhythms, hummable sax, and bright horn charts. It's all groove, ready for that moment when the party explodes into wildness. This is James at his best, delivering tight vamps and tasty sax lines in a creative exchange with the rhythm section. By any standard, Honestly is another winner by James, and the charts should respond in kind. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Concord Records

Released 11 days before Valentine's Day 2009, Boney James' album Send One Your Love seems intended to function as his romance-themed disc for the holiday. Not that any of the smooth-playing saxophonist's CDs wouldn't serve almost equally well as accompaniment to a candlelit dinner and all that comes after, but Send One Your Love is particularly suited to a night of love. In Boney James' estimation, the height of tender emotion seems to be located on the R&B charts of the mid-'70s; in addition to the title tune, penned by Stevie Wonder, the album contains his jazzy treatments of the Stylistics' "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)," Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More Baby," and the Brothers Johnson's "I'll Be Good to You." In the case of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," which here features a soulful vocalist over-emoting his way through the lyrics, Boney James may be recalling Nancy Wilson's version rather than the folk-pop one by its composer, James Taylor. But whether the familiar melodies are intended to recall young love for listeners or the tunes are originals, the music is typically soothing, making this another Boney James album much like its predecessors. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 27, 1997 | Craft Recordings

Boney James is hereby nominated to replace Kenny G as the poster boy for smooth jazz. The multi-saxman is not only one of the genre's top sellers, but also most consistently captures the requisite balance of silky, urban-lite grooves, bright yet easygoing melodic horn licks, and -- most importantly as far as definition is concerned -- improvises effectively enough for "jazz" to be an appropriate term for what he does. Bluntly speaking, he's more diverse, more soulful and less grating and repetitive than the G man. James' fourth non-holiday disc, Sweet Thing, finds him and co-producer Paul Brown up to their old irresistible tricks, texturing subtle hints of Earth, Wind & Fire-flavored horns, David Torkanowsky's vibes, Peter White's accordion, even a Moog and Wurlitzer to capture a laid-back classic soul feeling. The title track, in fact, is a tasteful cover of a classic Rufus hit from the era, featuring the song's co-writer, Tony Maiden, on guitar. James' fluffy, happy jazz titles -- "Nothin' But Love," "It's All Good," "Innocence" -- seem, however, too superficial and simple to represent tunes that dig this deep emotionally and feature impressive solos which turn even the catchiest pop tune away from strict cliché. They reflect James' lighthearted approach, yet tell little of the spiritual points beyond the smile. Al Jarreau's voice adds a touch of class and sensuality to "I Still Dream." © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 5, 1999 | Craft Recordings

Body Language is a fairly typical Boney James album in which the saxophonist (who is heard on tenor, soprano, and alto) plays in styles very close to Grover Washington, Jr. He is backed by studio rhythm section players, an occasional string section, and some electronics on material clearly designed to get maximum airplay on pop/jazz radio stations. James is a good player but he never really cuts loose or takes any chances on this set, and he has yet to break away from the Grover Washington influence to develop his own sound. Decent melodic background music but little more. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 19, 2000 | Warner Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Verve Forecast

It's an interesting question: would Boney James have recorded Contact if he'd never had a car accident that damaged his teeth and fractured his jaw? In May, 2010, he was rear-ended while stopped by a driver traveling at high speed. Though he was back on-stage in three weeks, the accident caused James to think back on where he'd been in his career. He reflected on the period he spent backing the Isley Brothers, Morris Day, Randy Crawford, and Teena Marie before his solo offering, 1992's Trust, catapulted him onto the contemporary jazz scene. Contact -- his debut for Verve Forecast -- indulges those influences. James produced and co-wrote every cut here, including the four vocal numbers. The first of these, "Close to You," features a stellar performance by Donell Jones; it is one of the album's true highlights. James plays plays his soprano, interweaving those silky vocal lines with gorgeous fills. Former Destiny's Child member LeToya Luckett sings on the lilting ballad "When I Had the Chance," Heather Headley appears on the slippery-grooved Latin-tinged "I'm Waiting," and Mario does a magnificent job on the dancefloor stepper "That Look on Your Face." James' own chops are fine as ever On the instrumental title track, he lets a slightly angular, syncopated, B-3-led rhythm section groove assert itself before smoothly entering and laying down the melody amid Rob Bacon's guitar fills and a bright-sounding, tightly arranged horn section. On "Cry," Dean Parks plays a nylon-string guitar, giving the cut an exotic flamenco feel before James breathily lets the melody flow from his tenor. With percussion work by drummer Teddy Campbell and Lenny Castro on congas and timbales, it streams forth in a rich, sensually arrayed meld of colors and textures. "There and Back" is a soul ballad where the saxophonist is the singer. It's lithe, silky groove is colored by hand percussion as James, with his canny sense of timing, tells a story on his horn. On "Everything Matters," the laid-back album closer, he plays tenor and alto, aided by Parks on electric guitar, Jimmy Johnson's keys, Campbell, and Castro. It's sweet and slow, but not sentimental, one almost hear Ron Isley singing to its melody. Contact is a bright spot in James' catalog, and underscores his welcome return to recording. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Concord Records

Sunny and improvisational, Boney James's SHINE--his 10th studio outing--finds the lite urban jazz sax maven in top form. By emphasizing the R&B side of his recipe and inviting friends like Faith Evans and the easy-listening jazz legend George Benson, James scores his most accessible album yet and crosses over to the R&B and Pop Charts in the process. The album includes a cover of Chuck Mangione's "Soft." © TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 23, 2001 | Craft Recordings

The masterful fusion of street funk, sensual R&B, and contemporary jazz that Boney James accomplishes on Ride continues to make him a favorite with listeners around the world. The multi-talented saxophonist, keyboardist, producer, and composer wrote or co-wrote nine of the songs for this ten-song program and features such stellar guest talent as Marcus Miller, R&B singer Jaheim on the title track, Dave Hollister's gospel-flavored street style heard on "Something Inside," and Trina Broussard's crystal-clear vocals on the opening track, "Heaven." Boney James recorded two of the songs live in the studio, seasons "This Is the Life" with a tropical flavoring complete with steel pans, and downright floors listeners on the groove-oriented "See What I'm Sayin'," with Marcus Miller's funky basslines doing the walking while Boney James' saxophone does the talking. Ride is more intense and funkier than James' duet collaboration with trumpeter Rick Braun on Shake It Up, but doesn't stray far from his ability to do just that. It's definitely a smooth ride and one listeners will enjoy. © Paula Edelstein /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 6, 1995 | Craft Recordings

Boney James comes from somewhere over in the easy listening corner of jazz, with rhythms bordering on funk in one direction and soft soul in the other, with a lot of programmed drums (very well done) and deep, dark synth bass. Sometimes a male voice will venture out into the mix, but this isn't a particularly significant portion of the program -- just the right sort of sound for this kind of laid-back, late-night, easy listening material. James himself handles alto, tenor, and soprano sax duties with ease, playing relaxed, weaving lines throughout each cut and working with some decidedly pleasant arrangements. Seduction is smooth and self-assured, well-dressed, and fairly unremarkable. © Steven McDonald /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released August 3, 2004 | Craft Recordings

Some who have followed Boney James' incredible trajectory in smooth jazz land -- which includes four gold albums and a Grammy nomination for his previous disc, Ride -- might think it's a risk for the popular saxman to take all the production reins himself. He's always been an outstanding, soulful player, but producer Paul Brown's cool, R&B-driven vibe helped make stars out of him and numerous of his peers. James shows tremendous confidence in that chair here, keeping his trademark seductive vibe going with a sweet and sassy mix of easygoing ballads, catchy R&B vocals, and more creative stretching exercises. As producer, his crowning achievement here is the simmering, brassy blues texturing of the vocal/sax tune "Thinkin' 'Bout Me," which is what might have resulted years ago had Sly Stone included Junior Walker as part of his family. As composer, that piece and the midtempo easy funk jam "Stone Groove" are the catchiest, with both allowing for just enough sax solo time amidst the horn textures. As a bonus, "Stone Grooves" includes a touch of class via a frisky Joe Sample piano solo that, alas, doesn't last long enough. James knows his market and knows that man does not live by great sax alone. He has a great time encouraging some developing R&B vocal talents who are sure to make more noise on their own, from Bilal to his new labelmate Debbie Nova and Dwele. The Nova tune "Appreciate" is such a crisply produced pop confection that James should consider helming more strictly vocal projects. For those who don't think the busy production here lives up to the title of the disc, there's the title cut itself -- simple, soulful, and dreamy as the genre gets. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records

After a brief sojourn for Verve Forecast with 2011's Contact, Boney James returns home to Concord for The Beat. Aptly titled, this is the recording where the composer and saxophonist weds his love for both R&B and Latin music, weaving them together in his trademark brand of contemporary jazz. Besides James, the other star on this date is all-star percussionist Lenny Castro, whose use of congas, timbales, bongos, and numerous other instruments adds dimension, flavor, and punch to most of these cuts. A cover of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," is the opener. It's played as a lithe bossa nova. Drummer Vinnie Colauita and Castro exchange accents in all the right places as James uses his soprano to glide through the melody. Another highlight is the cover of the Sergio Mendes classic "Batacuda," with longtime friend and collaborator Rick Braun lending his trumpet. In James' arrangement, this is 21st century jazz funk with the two-horn frontline backed by Rob Bacon's stinging guitar, Alex Al's bassline, Tim Carmon's keyboard washes -- including a second bassline -- and keen interplay between punchy drummer Omari Williams and Castro. Braun's solo is short but very tight. Soul crooner Raheem DeVaughn appears on the slippery meld of old-school soul and laid-back funky jazz on "Maker of Love." Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart offers her rhyming and signing skill to "They Midas (This Is Why)." It simmers with a sexy, nocturnal feel and illustrates modern club jazz at its best. "Sunset Boulevard" wanders into the jazz fields more, with lovely piano work from Brandon Coleman and a low-end strutting bass by Dwayne "Smitty" Smith. "Powerhouse" melds Latin funk to fingerpopping contemporary jazz, while "You Can Count on Me" -- with one of James' most memorable melodies in ages -- weds Brazilian MPB, languid R&B, and emotive smooth jazz, and sends it all out on a high note. His tenor playing here is wide open and sultry. While The Beat is not as uptempo as its title might imply, it more than compensates with the layers of rhythms inherent in its tunes. There are no low points on the set, only grooves galore. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 20, 1994 | Craft Recordings

Saxophonist Boney James has yet to develop his own musical personality. On Backbone, James does his best to imitate Grover Washington, Jr., both on tenor and soprano. The material on this set of obvious dance tracks is routine, his backing musicians sound faceless and anonymous, and James does little to uplift the music. Even in the pop music world, Boney James' lack of individuality (if it continues) might eventually cause a problem. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 11, 2019 | Craft Recordings

Taken in small doses, Boney James can be enjoyable to listen to. The Grover Washington-influenced saxophonist always sounds soulful, sincere, and passionate playing over R&B-ish rhythms. The problem is that James sounds virtually the same on every song he plays, and the individual tunes lack any personality of their own. So listening to four minutes of Boney James will tell listeners everything that he will play for the next 40 minutes; it does not change or evolve. And James' recordings do not stand out from each other, so the music on Trust is very similar to that found on all other Boney James CDs. If you enjoy one Boney James record, you will like them all, but is there any reason to own more than one or two? © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 4, 1996 | Craft Recordings

Working with producer Paul Brown, Boney James' Boney's Funky Christmas is an entertaining set of loose, funky and bluesy interpretations of both classic Christmas carols ("The Christmas Song") and more obscure contemporary selections like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas." Two selections, "This Christmas" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?," are sung by Dee Harvey and Bobby Caldwell, respectively, but the star of this show remains James and his saxophone, who breathe new life into these holiday cuts. © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 4, 2015 | Concord Records

Title aside, there is something very familiar about Futuresoul, Boney James' follow-up to 2013's Grammy-winning Beat. With a modern production approach, there is a deliberate look back at his great inspiration, Grover Washington, Jr., in particular, the late saxophonist's groundbreaking period between 1975 and 1983. Washington, then recording for Kudu, was deeply influenced by vintage soul music and equally taken with funk. He melded them seamlessly with warm, melodic jazz in a welcoming tone and songlike phrasing that virtually created the "smooth jazz" genre. Those tropes influenced and benefited James greatly; he's continued to evolve and transform the music since his 1992 debut album, Trust. His tone here is pure retro analog, while the rest of Futuresoul's sounds derive from the current production techniques of R&B and pop. He collaborated with several co-producers, including Jarius Mozee on the slinky club floor opener "Drumline," and with Dwele on the fingerpopping summertime groove in the title track. Stokley (Williams) makes a vocal appearance on the lovely crossover tune "Either Way." While the scratchy sample at the intro to "Vinyl" is perhaps too obvious, the melody is low, sexy, and slow, with elegantly layered and harmonically staggered saxophones. Rob Bacon's chunky guitar and Nutty P Beats' loops and spacy synths are tastefully stitched into the backdrop. The ballad "Hand in Hand," with Darrell Smith's programmed loops and low-end keyboard bass, is lithe and romantic, though the earthy, Southern gospel tinge of Tim Carmon's B-3 adds roots and depth. Closer "Far from Home" features the muted trumpet of Marquis Hill as a lyric foil for James. Carmon's acoustic piano fills, Vinnie Colaiuta's impressionistic drums, and Lenny Castro's illustrative percussion add a restrained yet cinematic feel to the track. While Futuresoul may not have the outward propulsive force of Beat, it is its flipside: a more lyrical outing that tastefully and thoughtfully melds grooves from the history of smooth and contemporary jazz to modern adult R&B. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 4, 2015 | Concord Records

Booklet
Title aside, there is something very familiar about Futuresoul, Boney James' follow-up to 2013's Grammy-winning Beat. With a modern production approach, there is a deliberate look back at his great inspiration, Grover Washington, Jr., in particular, the late saxophonist's groundbreaking period between 1975 and 1983. Washington, then recording for Kudu, was deeply influenced by vintage soul music and equally taken with funk. He melded them seamlessly with warm, melodic jazz in a welcoming tone and songlike phrasing that virtually created the "smooth jazz" genre. Those tropes influenced and benefited James greatly; he's continued to evolve and transform the music since his 1992 debut album, Trust. His tone here is pure retro analog, while the rest of Futuresoul's sounds derive from the current production techniques of R&B and pop. He collaborated with several co-producers, including Jarius Mozee on the slinky club floor opener "Drumline," and with Dwele on the fingerpopping summertime groove in the title track. Stokley (Williams) makes a vocal appearance on the lovely crossover tune "Either Way." While the scratchy sample at the intro to "Vinyl" is perhaps too obvious, the melody is low, sexy, and slow, with elegantly layered and harmonically staggered saxophones. Rob Bacon's chunky guitar and Nutty P Beats' loops and spacy synths are tastefully stitched into the backdrop. The ballad "Hand in Hand," with Darrell Smith's programmed loops and low-end keyboard bass, is lithe and romantic, though the earthy, Southern gospel tinge of Tim Carmon's B-3 adds roots and depth. Closer "Far from Home" features the muted trumpet of Marquis Hill as a lyric foil for James. Carmon's acoustic piano fills, Vinnie Colaiuta's impressionistic drums, and Lenny Castro's illustrative percussion add a restrained yet cinematic feel to the track. While Futuresoul may not have the outward propulsive force of Beat, it is its flipside: a more lyrical outing that tastefully and thoughtfully melds grooves from the history of smooth and contemporary jazz to modern adult R&B. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 1, 2017 | Concord Records

Saxophonist and composer Boney James has been on a roll during the second decade of the 21st century. His three studio albums -- Contact, The Beat, and Futuresoul -- have all topped the jazz charts (the later for 11 weeks); in addition, the first decade netted another in Shake It Up, as well as a handful of number twos. Honestly is his 16th album, and finds him celebrating his 25th anniversary as a solo artist after stints with Morris Day and the Isley Brothers. While his tone and phrasing are instantly recognizable, the production aesthetic on Honestly differs considerably from Futuresoul. Arrangements are a bit sparser, leaving more room for each instrument in the mix: his horn, keys, and drum programming, as well as the session players on guitars, basses, and other keyboards, including a lovely Rhodes piano on the airy opener "Kicks." Vocalist Avery Sunshine assists on the title track single, a lyric presentation of neo-soul that dovetails with the contemporary jazz aesthetic. She is resonant and sultry as James adds ballast in his saxophone fills and synth tags. "Tick Tock" is the instrumental single co-produced Jarius Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke). Not only does it dig into contemporary R&B, it harkens back to the glory days of CTI and Kudu with its lush horn section, grand piano fills, and James pulling out his best Grover Washington, Jr. in his funky phrasing and solo. "On the Prowl uses a B-3 and a celeste to get at a film noir vibe with guitars accenting blues changes in a minor key as James blows a nocturnal melody. "We Came to Party" has an early Earth Wind & Fire feel, as it lays back through the opening lyrics and choruses to break wide open during the solo saxophone to become a beat-conscious celebration. The biggest surprise is a spectral yet lovely cover of Hoagy Carmichael's standard "Skylark," delivered with restraint and elegance. With an acoustic piano at the forefront, James' horn delivers a contemporary urban tinge. It's followed by another understated soul jam, "If I Can't Hold You," with a fine lead vocal by Eric Roberson. The album closes with "Up All Night," a party jam with slapped basslines, tight, funky, locking rhythms, hummable sax, and bright horn charts. It's all groove, ready for that moment when the party explodes into wildness. This is James at his best, delivering tight vamps and tasty sax lines in a creative exchange with the rhythm section. By any standard, Honestly is another winner by James, and the charts should respond in kind. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 2007 | Concord Records