You'd never know it from the effortlessly soulful melodies and silky grooves of his records, but Boney James becomes a mad scientist in the studio while working to create sounds that feel as...Expand
You'd never know it from the effortlessly soulful melodies and silky grooves of his records, but Boney James becomes a mad scientist in the studio while working to create sounds that feel as soothing as a tropical breeze. "I was a nut making this record," the acclaimed saxophonist/songwriter/producer admits with a laugh while discussing Shine, his 10th solo album and first for Concord Records. "My wife calls me Mr. Einstein. I'll come in from the studio with crazy hair and this wild look in my eyes. I get obsessed - so much so that I actually have a song on this record called 'Let It Go.'"
Shine finds the veteran musician conjuring an array of moods - from the jaunty bounce of the title track and "Gonna Get It" to the velvety seductions of "Love Song" and "Hypnotic," from the delicate "In the Rain" and the introspective "Dedication" to the ebullient stride of "Let It Go." What ties it all together, apart from Boney's endlessly lyrical, emotive playing on tenor, soprano and alto sax (among other instruments), is a glow of joy that's as evident in the record's languid passages as in its most effusive solos.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., James Oppenheim began playing music at the tender age of eight. "I started on clarinet," he remembers. "I wanted to play trumpet - the instrument of choice for boys - but the music store was out of them and I didn't want to wait. I was impulsive." Over the course of more than a decade, he delivered a string of hugely successful albums on Warner that blended jazz and R&aB - virtually spawning the subgenre known as Urban Jazz. 2004's Pure marked his debut as his own producer. "I did most of it in my home studio and there was a learning curve," he acknowledges of the recording space in his L.A. home, which he shares with his wife, actress and filmmaker Lily Mariye ("E.R."). "But while recording Shine I really saw the benefit of working at my place and on my own schedule. If I have an idea, I can realize it."
Energized by a new release on a new label, Boney reaffirms his excitement about returning to the road. "The communal experience of playing live - that's why I became a musician in the first place," he insists. "It's exciting and liberating. It never gets old for me." It also allows him a temporary escape from the mad scientist, who will most certainly have fresh challenges for him next time. TOP