News / Arts & Entertainment

Boney James Has 'The Beat'

Saxophonist Boney James performs at the 5th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California, Nov. 28, 2012.
Saxophonist Boney James performs at the 5th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California, Nov. 28, 2012.
Doug Levine
Saxophonist Boney James has been a dominant force on the smooth jazz scene for years, but there’s more to this artist than meets the ear. 

James must have been a fan of  American Bandstand, Dick Clark’s long-running TV show where the catchphrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” was born.  That’s because his new album The Beat is long on solid, steady dance rhythms reminiscent of ‘70’s soul and Rhythm & Blues.

Doug Levine's review of Boney James' "The Beat" album
Doug Levine's review of Boney James' "The Beat" albumi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

James became hooked on R&B during Motown’s golden age in the 1960s.  He says he was later drawn to saxophonists who ventured outside the usual jazz fare.

“As I started listening to more music that featured the saxophone, especially in the mid-‘70s when I was getting into music; all the great fusion music and the R&B hybrids were starting - like Grover Washington, Jr. and Ronnie Laws and Weather Report and all the great music - it was like the renaissance of this kind of music was right when I was becoming interested in music.  So it had a huge effect on me,” he explains.
 
“I think evolution is the right thing.  I definitely try not to repeat myself," James adds.  "I mean that’s the only thing I ever really try to think about is, ‘Oh that might sound like something I’ve done before,’ and try and fix it.  I also want to try and stay fresh, but also to be honest and respond to whatever music is naturally coming out of me at the time.”

Born James Oppenheim in Lowell, Massachusetts, Boney James has come a long way from his dues-paying days as a sideman to other musicians. He often ran out of money for food and struggled to make ends meet. Those lean years earned him the nickname “Boney.”  He says hard times have only made him more appreciative of success.

“It’s pretty amazing to look back and realize that this much time has gone by and so many great things have happened in my career that I never expected - Grammy nominations, ‘Soul Train’ Award and gold records - all this stuff that you don’t even really dare to dream of when you’re first starting out.  You just want to be able to pay the rent.  It’s kind of cool,” he says.

On The Beat, James combines his love for Latin music and R&B with updates of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” and the Sergio Mendes classic “Batucada  (The Beat),” featuring trumpeter Rick Braun.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures