Boney James — Contact

May 4, 2011

Ahhh, who provides a more recognizable, refreshing, household sound representative of smooth/contemporary jazz that is so NOT “elevator music” than our beloved and personable Boney James? Well, he’s back in Contact with us with his latest release by that very name.

Never one to disappoint in my opinion, the master saxman comes out of the chute with gusto, vigor, and everything that has always been so irresistibly appealing about the man!  Knowing hooks and melodies and rhythms and seductive passages like knowing his own name, he delivers here on pieces like the driving opening and title track, followed by the soulful “Close to You” with Donnell Jones on vocals fit to charm any young lady right into the arms of a romantic setting.

Not surprisingly, when someone of Boney’s accomplishments and caliber comes calling on such dependable studio hotshots as Alex Al and Lenny Castro, he is always obliged.  Adding to that is the enthusiastic support he always gets from young guest performers like LeToya Luckett (“When I Had the Chance”).  Everyone loves a winner, right?

I remember the early Boney days. The days marveling at Trust, Backbone, and Seduction, and, while we all like change and newness, there’s that comfortable familiarity with even the new Boney material  that never lets one stray too far from “home,” and I, for one, am so very grateful for that. After all, certain names will always be iconic to me in the world of smooth/contemporary jazz. Boney James is certainly one of them. Here is one of the few artists who has managed to maintain that truly sweet balance between contemporary jazz and R&B.  The jazzy runs are always sophisticated and ever mindful of what this genre is all about while embracing the soul and rhythm of R&B to add the right amount of sass. This is a true demonstration of the art form.
As another great example of how the saxman molds and mixes styles, there’s a cool mix of R&B, jazz, and a pinch of that enticing Latin rhythm with the alluring vocals of Heather Headley on track 8’s “I’m Waiting,” one of my personal faves.

True Boney James fans will not be disappointed in the least as the artist continues along the road to his legacy of the pied piper with the sexy sax.  He truly has fun with what he does, but you can also hear that he approaches these projects with a very serious air of commitment to excellence.  There is some question about whether the Hippocratic oath actually states that a physician first do no harm. Regardless, I believe Boney James definitely approaches contemporary jazz with that attitude. -  Ronald Jackson