Smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James follows up 2011 album Contact with the 2013 effort The Beat, via Concord. An amalgam of styles, specifically Latin, jazz and R&B, The Beat is pleasant if lacking in innovation. Safe though it may be, The Beat successfully contrasts tempo and styles, in addition to featuring some highlights. James beautifully portrays the vocal melody of the Stevie Wonder classic “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” via the saxophone. On the electrifying, grooving “Batucada (The Beat)”, James reunites soundly with fellow jazz trumpeter Rick Braun. Raheem DeVaughn’s sensual pipes perfectly complement James’s playing on the valedictory “Maker of Love”. The Floacist lifts the urban-jazz of “The Midas (This Is Why)” with a thoughtful, poetic performance. The Beat ultimately dodges deal-breaking filler, with James’ musicianship always serving as the great equalizer. Consistent, The Beat may lack the ‘wow’ factor, but it still manages enjoyability.
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