Boney James currently sits atop of the premier league of smooth jazz sax men and this new album is set to keep him right there. ‘Contact’ is an album that ticks all the requisite smooth jazz boxes and as a bonus there’s a quartet of lovely vocal tracks that will please soul folk everywhere.
Let’s start with those vocals. The first is ‘Close To You’ featuring Donell Jones. It’s not the Burt B song (it was written by James, Tim Carmon and the redoubtable Rex Rideout); it’s a slow burner of a ballad with a great hook and honed vocal harmonies. The Le Toya Lucket-vocalised ‘When I Had The Chance’ is another classic quiet storm moment too, though ‘That Look On Your Face’ with Mario on lead is a polite thumper that might just appeal to the modern soul room brigade. It fairly zips along and Mario’s soul prowess might surprise the nay sayers. The fourth big vocal is the Heather Headley-featured ‘I’m Waiting’. She’s on fine form too on a pleasing bumpy sort of cut.
Of the instrumentals, the LP’s title cut is the biggest. It features a strong brass ensemble marshalled by the veteran Jerry Hey. He’s in control of the slower ‘Deep Time’ too which features a powerful melody line which James handles with his accustomed aplomb. ‘Everything Matters’ is another slowie with some fine keys from Leon Bisquera. Indeed throughout James is supported by a fine cast that at various times includes Dean Parks, Lenny Castro and Freddie Washington. For most of the album though James uses the same core musicians – Rob Bacon (guitar), Alex Al (bass) and Teddy Campbell (drums) and this ensures the album has a unity that many similar ventures lack.