Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. A new recording from sax superstar Boney James invariably proves to be a highlight of the musical year and this is clearly destined to be the case with his brand new CD Send One Your Love. Released this week and in good time for that magical date of February 12, Boney, with four of his own compositions plus covers of some of the finest love songs ever written, has compiled what has been described as the ultimate ‘Musical Valentine’. In fact for James the idea of a concept album represents something of a departure. With the vast majority of his previous eleven albums the overall vibe has come after the fact, when all tracks have been laid down. His music has served to virtually define the genre of urban jazz but with Send One Your Love he has set out to create his own ‘make-out’ record, inspired in part by the soul music of the ‘70s.
The melody of the Stevie Wonder written title cut complements to perfection the romantic mood of the entire collection and much the same can be said of Boney’s take on the Barry White classic ‘I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby’. A stunning beat and James’ sensuous playing combine to make this one the natural center piece of any Valentines Night encounter and when Boney looks to one of his own sax heroes, John Klemmer, for the track ‘Touch’ he not surprisingly makes it entirely his own. Tender, sophisticated and heartfelt it is replete with the qualities that have defined James playing for the last seventeen years and the sexy swagger he injects into the seminal Brothers Johnson hit ‘I’ll Be Good to You’ gives the tune an altogether different complexion. Although Boney himself describes it as the Brothers Johnson meets Boz Scaggs, truth to tell the groove is entirely Boney James and this is also true of the timeless James Taylor number ‘I Don’t Want To Be Lonely Tonight’.
Boney envisaged the tune as being infused with a gritty R & B edge and wanted a young singer with star potential to handle the vocal. Enter Quinn who at the time was working as an Atlanta-based session singer. He was recommended to Boney who flew him to Los Angeles where together they cut the track in two takes. The first single to go to radio is ‘Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)’ that was written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed and which was a huge hit for the Stylistics in 1971. It’s already riding high on the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio and is a certainty to be amongst the top covers of 2009.
However, despite the magic of these timeless tunes it’s the Boney James originals that really grab the attention. Featuring Stefon Harris on vibraphone, and a beautiful guitar solo from Dean Parks, ‘City Of Light’ has a distinctly Parisian quality about it while ‘Butter’, which Boney co-writes with Mark Stephens is, quite simply, crammed full of the sexy, seductive tenor saxophone that James does so well. Even better is the hypnotically turned down ‘Wanna Show U Sumthin’ that benefits from the sparse yet effective vocals of Sue Ann Carwell but a real Secret Garden favorite is the sumptuous ‘Hold On Tight’. Moody and dappled with a subtle string arrangement this is contemporary jazz how it’s meant to be.
Out on Concord Records, Send One Your Love looks set to cement the reputation of Boney James as one of the most respected and best-selling instrumental artists of our time. It comes highly recommended.
For more go to www.boneyjames.com
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at February 8, 2009 3:20 PM