Friday, March 8, 2013

Boney James The Beat Concord 2013

The Beat It what could best be described as a devastating loss for Verve, Boney James comes back to Concord records and flips the smooth side of jazz to contemporary jazz with a soulful and soul filled Latin beat. Thus the more that apt title, The Beat.
The difference between smooth and contemporary jazz? The smoother side of jazz is for the mid to late forty something crowd that can't deal with it. Contemporary instrumental jazz is a hybrid of sounds that are up to date, innovative and about as far from easy listening on steroids as you can get.

Enter Boney James and The Beat...

True enough that James made a name and a substantial living walking the smooth jazz tightrope that swallowed up some amazing talent and turned then into musical footnotes which is being kind. Boney James has survived everything from a serious car crash that almost ended his career to a rebirth with a new label that is a champion of diversity. The end result is a unique and infectious hybrid of a smoother contemporary style that borders on R&B with an infectious Latin vibe tossed in for tons of flavor. The Beat is arguably James finest work to date. For an artist that made his name on the smoother side of jazz, James takes a walk on the wild side. How so? James does an off the charts mash up of contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin and smoldering underneath is a world music vibe that is the glue that binds this release together.

From the Stevie Wonder classic, "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" to the Latin tip of a Sergio Mendes influence on the title track "The Beat" which features long time friend and co-music conspirator Rick Braun this release has an ebb and flow that rivals most straight ahead records and labels specifically known for this approach. There is the elegant sophistication of Mari's Song to a more foot to the floor approach of groove infused "Sunset Boulevard." Joining James are vocalist Raheem De Vaugn and spoken word artist The Floacist.

Not being a critic fond of what are normally predictable to the point of being lame vocals and spoken word pieces tossed in for dramatic effect, Boney James who also happened to produce this gem hit all the marks necessary and gives all music fans in general a little piece of the pie. Not normally a fan of the smoother side of jazz no matter how it may be "fixed in the mix" I gotta give James his props. The vibe is real, the groove infectious and the end result speaks for itself.

Tracks: Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing; Sunset Boulevard; Missing You; Batucada (The Beat); Maker Of Love; Mari's Song; Power House; The Midas (This Is Why); Acalento; You Can Count On Me.

Personnel: Boney James: Soprano sax, flute, keyboards, tenor saxophone; Brandon Coleman: keyboards; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Lenny Castro: percussion; Rob Bacon: guitar; Dwayne "Smitty" Smith: bass; Omari Williams: drums; Jairus Mozee: guitar, keyboards, programming; Abi Mancha: vocals; Rick Braun: trumpet; Tim Carmon: keyboards, keyboard bass; Alex Al: bass; Raheem DeVaughn: vocals; Phil Davis: keyboards, programming; Tim Carmon: piano; Mark Stephens: keyboards; The Floacist: vocals;