BONEY JAMES: The Beat (Concord)


Super smooth sax man, Boney James returns to the Concord label for his 14th album, named after the cool cover of the big, Latin-flavoured Marcos and Serge Valle tune that was originally recorded by Sergio Mendes. Here Boney treats the tune with some respect while trying to give it a tougher edge. He calls it “funky” – but it’s not the funk that proper funkateers would acknowledge. It is though enhanced by some fine free-flying trumpet from Rick Braun – one of three high profile guests on the 10 tracker. The other two are Raheem DeVaughn who offers his typical laid-back vocals on the neo-soul flavoured ‘Maker Of Love’ and The Floacist (Natalie Stewart) whose whispered tones make ‘The Midas (This Is Why)’ sound like a Floetry outtake.

Of the straight instrumentals, the best soul groove is James’ own ‘Sunset Boulevard’ – tight and punchy while the closing ‘You Can Count On Me’ is a sinuous, slinky sax workout. Biggest disappointment is a take on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing’ – lacking life, it just sounds tired… a cause for worry, I’d say.

‘Missing You’ is much better. .. but it’s hard to class it as an instrumental since it features a cooed vocal chorus courtesy of Abi Mancha. It’s pleasant without challenging – perfect fare for the smooth jazz stations – as is most of the set.

(BB) 3/5