Boney James: The Beat (2013)
James' background in soul music playing keyboards and sax for Morris Day, the Isley Brothers, and Bobby Caldwell has weighed heavily in his fondness for R'n'B and hip-hop, but The Beat drops a few hints of his love of Latin rhythms as well best evidenced in a laconic version of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry About A Thing" and on the boppish "Batucada (The Beat)" where James works out with his frequent collaborator, trumpeter Rick Braun. Though they won't remind anyone of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, the James and Braun pairings tend to bring out the most purely "jazz" moments in each other.
It wouldn't be a Boney James record without a few guest vocalists dropping by and The Beat is no exception with three; "Missing You" featuring guitarist Jarius Mozee and Abi Mancha's nicely understated whisper, "Maker of Love" gives Raheem DeVaughn an opportunity to give praise to an attractive lady's attributes, and Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart gives the gents equal time on "The Midas (This Is Why)."
If you aren't already a member of Team Boney, The Beat may not be the release to get you to sign up. For the faithful who helped propel the album to the top of the charts James remains a formidable force in contemporary jazz, standing at the top and giving his competition an even steeper hill to climb.
Track Listing: Don’t You Worry About A Thing; Sunset Boulevard; Missing You; Batucada (The Beat); Maker of Love; Mari’s Song; Powerhouse; The Midas (This Is Why); Acalento (Lullaby); You Can Count On Me
Personnel: Boney James: soprano, tenor and alto saxophone, flute, keyboards; Brandon Coleman: keyboards (1, 2); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (1, 9, 10); Lenny Castro: percussion (1-4, 6-10); Rob Bacon: guitar (2, 4, 7, 10); Dewayne “Smitty” Smith: bass (2, 10); Omari Williams: drums (2, 4, 7); Jarius Mozee: guitar, keyboards, programming (3); Abi Mancha: vocals (3); Tim Carmon: keyboards, keyboard bass (4, 6, 8); Alex Al: bass (4, 6, 7, 9); Rick Braun: trumpet (4); Raheem DeVaughn: vocals (5); Phil Davis: keyboards, programming (5); Mark Stephens: keyboards (7, 9); Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart: vocals (8)
Record Label: Concord Music Group