Anyone with any knowledge of saxophonist Boney James will immediately recognized the fact that he is the ultimate funkateer. His urban-influenced smooth jazz is cool, energetic and fully loaded with rich R&B induced grooves. For more than a decade, Boney has set about the business of putting a multi-faceted array of musical styles back into jazz. As a two-time Grammy Award nominee and having nine albums to his credit, Boney James has proven himself to be one of the most popular saxophonists in jazz. His ability to transcend the boundaries of contemporary, pop, R&B and jazz music are well-known.
However, what is even more apparent are his skills as an instrumentalist. His latest album for Concord Records entitled Shine is a clear indication of his talent as a musician and behind the scenes innovator. You will hear Boney shine not only on the saxophone, but also as a flutist, keyboardist and producer. Shine is James’ 10th release overall and his first album for Concord. Although smooth jazz is the musical intent, Boney takes this CD a few steps beyond the sometimes neatly encapsulated style of play that often dominates the airwaves of radio.
For effect, James has included a heralded cross-section of some of the best vocalists and musicians in the music industry to record one of his best albums to date. For starters, he has included the vocalese of hip-hop’s Faith Evans, R&B’s Dwele and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phillip Bailey, as well as the specialized skills of keyboardist George Duke. For additional spice, Boney pushes the element of surprise by adding the dynamics of guitarist George Benson, Esthero and the one and only Ann Nesby of the Sounds of Blackness. Once these varying ingredients were mixed together as one commonality of conveyance, Shine came out smoking with 12 tracks of melodically enhanced grooves.
Shine is the first track on Boney’s musical journey through a cornucopia of musical styles and immediately there is a well-timed coordinated release of energy. He then methodically connects Carlos Jobim’s Latin-rich cut entitled "Aquas De Março," "In The Rain," a tune made famous by The Dramatics with some of the most diverse music ever presented on a smooth jazz CD. Another side of Shine has Faith Evans doing her thing on "Gonna Get It," a tune written by Boney and Rahsaan Patterson. Hearing him on sax’ and Faith on vocals, one can expect this tune to become an album favorite. Overall, Shine’ has all the elements of a very enjoyable CD and it contains any number of bells and whistles to make it a delightful addition to any musical library.
As one examines the career of Boney James, one of the more outstanding characteristics of his music has been an instinctive ability to make good sounding music. As a smooth jazz specialist, Boney easily combines the elements of R&B, soul, pop and jazz into one formulated groove that is distinctive and melancholy. With the release of Shine, Boney James has gone another further towards mesmerizing an ever-increasing legion of fans. In the end, a path is forged that bridges the gap between contemporary and smooth jazz styles. This release was highly anticipated and believe it or not, the wait was well worth the response from of music’s premier saxophonists.