Boney James - Futuresoul (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz
Artist: Boney James
Genre: Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Crossover Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Saxophone Jazz
Label: © Concord Music Group, Inc.
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Recorded by Dave Rideau and Boney James at The Backyard, Los Angeles, CA and Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA
Four-time Grammy nominee and multi-platinum selling saxophone player Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic album futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, James has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 Grammy nominated album The Beat.
“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences. But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative. As I started the new record, I was in my backyard studio messing around with this 'gearhead' stuff I’ve collected. Ideas started flowing and it sounded like modern soul music to me. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’… And then it hit me: futuresoul.” --Boney James
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. --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
At this point, with 15 albums under his belt, it's been established what Boney James does and does not do well. If you are in search of an adventurous artist who is constantly pushing the envelope and challenging himself and the listener by daring to deviate from expectation, keep looking: this is not the saxophonist you are looking for.
James is an extremely impressive master of the good groove. That is something he is at the top of his profession in his ability to get funky with it. For those familiar with and already hooked on James' faithful style of R&B and jazz, Futuresoul rewards your patience since The Beat (Concord, 2013) with multiple moments designed to make heads bob, fingers snap and feet dance.
The snappy opener, "Drumline" gets the party started goosed along by Jarius Mozee's scratchy guitar lines and Kennnan Ephriam's drum kit playing off of James' tenor sax soloing. Equally sweet to the ear is the Old School throwback, "Vinyl" which fondly recalls Grover Washington, Jr. at his "Mister Magic" best.
There are only two vocal tracks but they're both way above average. Switching to alto sax on "Watchu' Gon' Do About It?," James gives newcomer Nikeita Crichlow a chance to shine as she contributes a smoky vocal to the tune she co-wrote with James and Mozee. It will be on "Repeat" in many a car stereo and so will "Either Way" featuring Stokley Williams from Eighties soul group Mint Condition.
Futuresoul is front-loaded with its best moments in its first five tracks. The second half sags a bit as "Hand In Hand," "Fortuneteller," "The Moment" and "Futuresoul" don't bring enough effort to make them much more than pleasanty forgettable filler.
The closer, "Far From Home" finds James going toe-to-toe with the understated grace of Marquis Hill's trumpet and more than holding his own. Add in Tim Carman's acoustic piano fills and Vinnie Colaiuta's drumming and James provides ample evidence he can play it straight when the mood strikes him. Futuresoul is unlikely to convert the skeptic into a Boney James believer, but for the legions of listeners already initiated, this is a great way to kickoff the Summer of 2015. --All About Jazz Review by Jeff Winbush
1 Drumline 04:18
2 Vinyl 04:07
3 A Little Attitude 04:02
4 Watchu Gon' Do About It? 03:39
5 Either Way 04:08
6 Hand In Hand 03:53
7 Fortuneteller 04:35
8 The Moment 04:24
9 futuresoul 04:07
10 Far From Home 04:16
Boney James: tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, keyboards, acoustic piano, drum programming
Craig Brockman: keyboards
Jarius Mozee: guitar, bass, drum programming
Kennan Ephriam: live drums, drum programming
Lenny Castro: percussion
Gerald McCauley: electric piano, synthesiser
Rob Bacon: guitar
Omari Williams: drums
Nutty P. Beats: drum programming, synth bass, synthesizers
Alex Al: bass
Nikeita Crichlow: background vocals
Stokley Williams: vocals
Darrell Smith: keyboards, keyboard bass; drum programming
Tim Carman: acoustic piano, B3 organ, acoustic piano fills
Phil Davis: keyboards
Dwayne "Smitty" Smith: bass
Dwele: keyboards, drum programming
Vinnie Colaiuta: drums
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