I'm not a huge fan of jazz. There, I've said it. I've probably said it before.
Old jazz: Ella, Sarah, Billie, Nina, Dizzy, Coltrane, Brubeck... them I got and like a lot of it. The newer fusion stuff... not so much. I don't get the structure, the math, the feel...hell I don't get the soul of it. But last night I went to see a little jazz concert and... I liked it.
interview with Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Boney James a few weeks ago, and his take on Boney's new album The Beat got me interested. I knew he was going to play at the local Performing Arts Center, the Bergen PAC, but the show was last night and I knowing I had a late show to attend in Manhattan tonight, I thought I'd pass. Then fate stepped in. The PAC held an impromptu give-away on Facebook and I won a pair of tickets to the show. Suck it up Kat, time to return to the old days of back-to-back concerts.
From the moment Boney James strode onstage, I liked what I saw. Young, confident with both style and swagger. Yeah, if I didn't know better, I'd say he was Jersey all the way. Black jacket, pants, sneaks, white shirt, red tie and black fedora.
His show consisted of jazz yes, but he brings in some R &B along with Latin influences. Very, very nice. Not being a student of jazz, I won't try to review the show in terms of what works or doesn't from a technical point of view. Let's just talk about how it made me feel. Normally at a show, my feet are moving and my head is keeping beat, from the first note. This took me a while to get into the groove. Not because he was wonderfully talented and very fun to watch onstage, but because I just had to acclimate myself to a totally different type of energy. And the energy is plentiful.
Switching between sax and clarinet, James dances, plays off his band and seems like he is having one hell of a good time. His just released album The Beat, was served up quite nicely. The title song, originally done by Sergio Mendes, was given a new life. He takes Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry About A Thing," even a little more Latin than the original. "Sunset Boulevard," another song from the new release, just like the street in LA, is a long smooth ride. In Boney James' hands, Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" doesn't need a vocal.
The night ended with an encore of "Grazing In The Grass," the old Hugh Masekela classic. It was still buzzing in my brain this morning. If you're a fan of jazz, chances are you know Boney James, with his Grammy nominations and all. The audience definitely did and several standing ovations throughout the night showed he gave them what they expected.
But even if you're like me, a casual jazz listener and are looking for a taste of new music, go see him. It was a sweet way to taste something different musically and who knows, maybe I do like jazz after all.