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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.

Blogs