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Boney James: Futuresoul

Genre-bending sax legend Boney James is back with his 15th album to show that it's not just whiskey and Meryl Streep that get better with age.
Boney James
Futuresoul
Concord

Give Boney James a saxophone and let him show you how many charts he can groove his way onto. With his new album placing 41st on the Billboard Current Albums chart and number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz and Current Jazz Albums Charts, Boney shows that it’s not just whiskey and Meryl Streep that get better with age.

Futuresoul is album number 15 for the Massachusetts born jazzman with an impressive repertoire of tracks, record signings and roles as a producer it is nice to hear a simple album that allows Boney to just do what he does best. From beginning to end the tracks are dripping with skill and Boney’s producing background becomes apparent through the quality of production and sound.

Inspiration for the album title is said to be due to Boney’s more modern approach to creating soul music, but also combining and contrasting this with his earlier influences. The album is the classic smooth jazz you would expect, but Boney provides an element of grit and force to the instrumentals in a way that makes him stand out from the crowd. Songs seem to end mid-song and vocals breeze in and out as the album progresses. It is apparent that the album has been structured so meticulously but feels completely effortless. Relaxed, easy and just plain sassy.

The songs are fairly short and the album as a whole is not particularly long, however the quick, snappy songs almost seem to be a clever method in making jazz slightly more accessible for all. Long seven-minute solos may be every jazz-diehard’s dream, but swapping this for sharp two minute wonders means that even people who are not into jazz can appreciate a bit of sweet soul without getting bored. Aside from his quality not quantity approach Boney is known for allowing different genres to influence his jazz. There is maybe less of a latin influence than previous albums such as The Beat but Boney’s R&B involvement in the past definitely creeps through in some of the tracks, producing a variety of jazz that keeps fans coming back for more.

Stand out track and album opener “Drum Line” pushes you off the diving block and into a pool of rhythmic saxophone without a pause for breath and doesn’t let you surface until “Far From Sound” finishes the album in style. Lyrical accompaniment from Nikeita Crichlow in “Watchu Gon’ Do About It” works brilliantly and a personal highlight was most definitely the sexy “Hand in Hand” that combines laid back sax with chilled drum beats. It must also be noted that collaborations with trumpet player Marquis Hill, vocalist and Mint Condition frontman Stokley and co-writers/co-producers Jairus Mozee and Dwele massively contribute to the top class album.

Concerning his newest album, Boney explains that “The record is a fusion of my love for vintage soul music and inspiration from modern production elements.” And in response to the well deserved popularity of the album he said “I am so grateful people are digging the record as much as I do!” Oh Boney, we are.

RATING 7 / 10
PopMatters