Boney James — Honestly

July 29, 2017

Now, there’s probably not a soul who’s listened to music in the last quarter century that doesn’t know of the thunderous impact one particular saxophonist – Boney James — has had on not just the world of smooth or contemporary jazz but R&B, as well. Album after album has been a smash, increasing his fan base to some crazy, almost infinite, number. It’s all been very justified, and that justification is advanced by the release of his 16th album, Honestly (release date: Sept. 1), an inferno-hot masterpiece of jazzy, soulful, funky, in-your-face tracks guaranteed to cause some to offer that this may well be his hottest to date.

With not a single “filler” tune or mediocre track on the album, Boney explodes on this one in a way that most certainly should land this project at number 1 on the charts in no time flat. Full of that signature Boney groove that captured so many back in 1992 with Trust and has kept on trucking through the hearts of who-knows-how-many with every CD since, he pours it on thick with this release, starting with the lead track “Kicks,” a soprano sax-led tune filled to the brim with that sassy, saucy mid-tempo charisma and confident gait, followed by the track that’s entered the radio cycle already with its mid-tempo slinky funk drive, “Tick Tock.” Boney says of this one, “It’s a very funky track with an insistent groove, and the arrangement goes places you don’t expect it to go.” Yeah, what he said.

“On the Prowl” finds the sax king digging deep into that sexy love groove that’s sent hearts into atrial fibrillation since ’92. Melody and seduction both descend on this track and take firm hold. Another of those play-it-back-again-and-again tunes. It simply doesn’t let go.

Let’s talk about “Low and Slow.” Do I even need to? It’s classic Boney. Picture him, hat slightly pulled down, gazing intently into some mesmerized lady’s eyes as he slowly approaches her with that confident stride, sax leading the way. Yep, you’ve got the image.

Then, there’s the seductive title track featuring the sexy songstress Avery Sunshine wooing the guys into a state of breathlessness.

Track 6’s “We Came to Party” says it all as the urge to dance is called up, and vocalist Eric Roberson does great justice to the solidly soulful and catchy “If I Can’t Hold You,” one of my personal faves.

The album is wrapped up with another of my faves (and there are many here), “Up All Night,” a snappy, funky jam that will surely be a stand-up-and-get-your-groove-on party-starter at his live performances.

What can you say about an artist who has kept it crankin’ for a quarter century with the same persona, the same vibe, and the same finger on the pulse of groove jazz like few others? I mean, what do you honestly say? Groove on, Boney. Groove on. – Ronald Jackson