BONEY JAMES: Futuresoul (Concord)


‘Futuresoul’ is sax man Boney James’ fifteenth long player and the ten tracker will delight the man’s many followers. The ten tracker (all original tunes) offers James’ trademark soul-based take on smooth jazz and he sets out his stall from the start with the robust ‘Drumline’. It’s an unusual mix of Isley Brothers churning funk and David Sanborn’s rootsy sax style. Like most of the music here it proves that “smooth” doesn’t always equate with “bland”.

It’s an album highlight. Other standouts are ‘Vinyl’ and ‘Far From Home’. The former is gentle and laid back, coming on like a love theme from a classic Blaxploitation movie. It also features some neat drum programming from the wonderfully named “Nutty P Beats”! ‘Far From Home’ is quite different. Poignant and plaintive it features fine piano from Tim Common and some beautiful trumpet from rising horn player, Marquis Hill. It’s too complex to be classed “Quiet Storm” but if that’s your thing try, ‘The Moment’ or ‘Hand In Hand’. The titles, I guess, tell you what to expect.

The album also boasts two satisfying vocal cuts. First up there’s ‘Whatchu Gon’ Do About It’. It’s not a full-on vocal; singer Nikelta Chrichlow coos sweetly and seductively on the chorus – evoking the great smooth jazz we used to know and love. ‘Either Way’ is much more intriguing. It features Stokley Williams from Mint Condition and we’re told that his vocal contribution was arranged an assembled via twitter and e-mail! The tune begins in classic smooth jazz style but Williams’ edgy, emotive vocal is far from “smooth” giving the cut a real edge that hopefully might bring a few modern soul folk into the Boney James fold.

(BB) 3/5