“The relaxed charisma of Mr. James’ tone is one reason his approach works…. another reason is his sturdy sense of phrase. Like Grover Washington, Jr., a pioneer in this field, he sounds at ease but alert, and he’s capable of striking an imploring tone without an overdose of saccharine.” – New York Times
Four gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, two NAACP Image Award nominations, a Soul Train Music Award and a nomination, sales totaling more than 3 million records. Chart-topping saxophonist Boney James embodies the phrase “horn of plenty.”
“I’m always thinking about making music,” James says. “It’s still my consuming passion.” That passion reverberates throughout James’ latest project, The Beat. This release marks his 14th album as well as his return to former label Concord Records. It’s a penetrating fusion of R&B, jazz and Latin rhythms given voice by James’ emotive saxophone and such guests as trumpet hitman Rick Braun, R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn and spoken word phenom The Floacist.
“There was no sense that this had to be a certain thing,” recalls James, who was between labels when he began recording the album. “I was recording for fun, experimenting with this hybrid R&B and Latin sound, two genres I love. I think it’s one of the best records I’ve ever done.”
The music has been flowing ever since he took up the clarinet at the age of eight. Switching to the saxophone, he began playing in dance bands at 14. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts and raised in New Rochelle, NY, James counts Wonder, legendary musician/producer Quincy Jones Earth, Wind & Fire and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. as major influences. James later honed his R&B chops while touring and doing session work for such marquee names as the Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford and Ray Parker Jr.
Between his two most recent albums-2009’s Send One Your Love (Concord) and 2011’s Contact (Verve)-James was wondering if he’d ever play the sax again. He was rear-ended by a drunk driver on a Los Angeles highway. His car totaled, James suffered a fractured jaw and lost two teeth as well as the ability to play for two months. That period is now thankfully a dim memory as James returns to Concord, ready to step up his game with The Beat. “The music I’m making comes with different elements that need to be experienced, not pre-judged or categorized,” he says. “I just want to be fresh, not derivative.”
For more information visit www.boneyjames.com