From sweet and smooth classics, to new names, to old names with new music...the focus here, is to shine a little light on some damn fine music.

I'll find it. You can listen, review, or tell me I wouldn't know good music if it kicked me in the ass. I personally don't give a shit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Enjoying "The Beat" with Boney James

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.

My friend Jim Wood did an 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.

Quite the showman, James knows how to keep the crowd interested. Encouraging audience interaction throughout the show, he was even part of the crowd at one point. Taking his sax, he wandered through the orchestra section, pausing to dance with various audience members (mostly females, as far as I could see.)

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.


  1. Just saw him for the 5th time in Houston. The man knows how to show up and show out. He plays like he was born with a sax in his hot little hands. Nobody quite like him. So glad you enjoyed the show.

    1. I really did. is talent, his personality, his charisma... just a really fun night of music. Thanks for stopping by.