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Saxophonist Boney James is one of the few smooth jazz artists who is able to cross over into the R&B genre, which is one reason why his latest CD, the follow-up to 2001's Ride, entered the Billboard Top 200 charts at No. 66. He's able to do this party because he picks either established artists or up-and-comers to sing on his vocal tracks. But James is also savvy enough to actually make sure that his vocal tracks are memorable, instead of throwaways. You can hear this on "Better With Time," the first single to R&B radio featuring singer Bilal. It's a righteous groove that's "getting better baby, like a stone-soul record, baby." On the equally good "Appreciate," soulful Debi Nova adds a rapid vocal groove that harkens to radio soul songs of the '80s and has a killer hook, to boot.
Of course, no one does smooth sax songs better that Boney J, and here he's helped by hot urban mixer Serban Ghenea. The first smooth jazz single, "Here She Comes," is racing up the smooth jazz charts, and there are plenty more to follow. Hooks and unforgettable melodies abound. The title track, "Pure," opens with groovy organ and seamlessly segues into James' sensual and deep sax sound. "2:01 AM" is a slow burning ballad with Boney blowing long, long lines. Joe Sample adds keys to "Stone Groove," an up-tempo groove. Perhaps the best number of the lot is "It's On," which is classic James materialgorgeous and bright sax lines leading into a head-boppin' melody.
Once again, James shows that he's at the top of his game.
Track Listing: Pure; Better With Time; 2:01 AM; Stone Groove (with Joe Sample); Appreciate (with Debi Nova); Here She Comes; Break of Dawn (with Dwele); It's On; Thinkin' About Me; You Don't Have to Go Home
Personnel: Boney James, saxophones; Joe Sample, Bobby Lyle, piano; Billy Prestion, organ; Bilal, Debi Nova, Dwele, Ledisi, Lauren Evans, vocals; Dean Parks, Rohn Lawrence, Paul Jackson Jr., guitars; Larry Kimpel, Alex Al, bass; Lenny Castro, percussion; Jerry Hey, trumpet; Ricky Lawson, Teddy Campbell, drums