futuresoul Boney James

Cover futuresoul

Album info

Album-Release:
2016

HRA-Release:
25.01.2016

Label: Concord Music

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Smooth Jazz

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Drumline04:18
  • 2Vinyl04:07
  • 3A Little Attitude04:02
  • 4Watchu Gon' Do About It?03:39
  • 5Either Way04:08
  • 6Hand In Hand03:53
  • 7Fortuneteller04:35
  • 8The Moment04:24
  • 9futuresoul04:07
  • 10Far From Home04:16
  • Total Runtime41:29

Info for futuresoul

Four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, Boney has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 GRAMMY-nominated album The Beat.

“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences,” says James, dropping names like King Curtis, the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire. “But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative. As I started the new record, I was in my backyard studio messing around with this “gearhead” stuff I’ve collected. Ideas started flowing and it sounded like modern soul music to me. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’… And then it hit me: ‘futuresoul.’”

His 15th CD, futuresoul contains 10 original songs produced and written or co-written by James. Released by Concord Records May 4, 2015, futuresoul features vocalist and Mint Condition frontman Stokley on “Either Way,” a collaboration enabled by Twitter. Says James, “Like my recent duet with Raheem DeVaughn, I was able to meet Stokley on Twitter and send him the music for this track. He wrote the brilliant lyric and sent me a finished vocal all via email!”

„Title aside, there is something very familiar about Futuresoul, Boney James' follow-up to 2013's Grammy-winning Beat. With a modern production approach, there is a deliberate look back at his great inspiration, Grover Washington, Jr., in particular, the late saxophonist's groundbreaking period between 1975 and 1983. Washington, then recording for Kudu, was deeply influenced by vintage soul music and equally taken with funk. He melded them seamlessly with warm, melodic jazz in a welcoming tone and songlike phrasing that virtually created the 'smooth jazz' genre. Those tropes influenced and benefited James greatly; he's continued to evolve and transform the music since his 1992 debut album, Trust. His tone here is pure retro analog, while the rest of Futuresoul's sounds derive from the current production techniques of R&B and pop. He collaborated with several co-producers, including Jarius Mozee on the slinky club floor opener 'Drumline,' and with Dwele on the fingerpopping summertime groove in the title track. Stokley (Williams) makes a vocal appearance on the lovely crossover tune 'Either Way.' While the scratchy sample at the intro to 'Vinyl' is perhaps too obvious, the melody is low, sexy, and slow, with elegantly layered and harmonically staggered saxophones. Rob Bacon's chunky guitar and Nutty P Beats' loops and spacy synths are tastefully stitched into the backdrop. The ballad 'Hand in Hand,' with Darrell Smith's programmed loops and low-end keyboard bass, is lithe and romantic, though the earthy, Southern gospel tinge of Tim Carmon's B-3 adds roots and depth. Closer 'Far from Home' features the muted trumpet of Marquis Hill as a lyric foil for James. Carmon's acoustic piano fills, Vinnie Colaiuta's impressionistic drums, and Lenny Castro's illustrative percussion add a restrained yet cinematic feel to the track. While Futuresoul may not have the outward propulsive force of Beat, it is its flipside: a more lyrical outing that tastefully and thoughtfully melds grooves from the history of smooth and contemporary jazz to modern adult R&B.“ (Thom Jurek, AMG)

Boney James, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, keyboards, piano, drum programming
Craig Brockman, keyboards
Jarius Mozee, guitar, bass, drum programming
Kennan Ephriam, live drums, drum programming
Lenny Castro, percussion
Gerald McCauley, electric piano, synthesizer
Rob Bacon, guitar
Omari Williams, drums
Nutty P. Beats, drum programming, synth bass, synthesizers
Alex Al, bass
Nikeita Crichlow, background vocals
Stokley Williams, vocals
Darrell Smith, keyboards, keyboard bass, drum programming
Tim Carman, acoustic piano, B3 organ, acoustic piano fills
Phil Davis, keyboards
Dwayne 'Smitty' Smith, bass
Dwele, keyboards, drum programming
Vinnie Colaiuta, drums


Boney James
4-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, Boney has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 GRAMMY nominated album The Beat.

“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences,” says James, dropping names like King Curtis, the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire. “But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative. As I started the new record, I was in my backyard studio messing around with this “gearhead” stuff I’ve collected. Ideas started flowing and it sounded like modern soul music to me. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’… And then it hit me: ‘futuresoul.’”

His 15th CD, futuresoul contains 10 original songs produced and written or co-written by James. Released by Concord Records May 4, 2015, futuresoul features vocalist and Mint Condition frontman Stokley on “Either Way,” a collaboration enabled by Twitter. Says James, “Like my recent duet with Raheem DeVaughn, I was able to meet Stokley on Twitter and send him the music for this track. He wrote the brilliant lyric and sent me a finished vocal all via email!”

Also featured is rising-star trumpet player Marquis Hill (2014 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition) on the plaintive “Far From Home.”

Other notable collabs on the record are title-cut “futuresoul,” co-written and co-produced by neo-soul mainstay Dwele, and “Drumline” and “Watcha Gon’ Do About It?” with co-writer/co-producer Jairus Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke).

futuresoul is the follow-up to The Beat (2013), nominated for the GRAMMY for Best Pop Instrumental Album, which prompted The New York Times to praise “The relaxed charisma of Mr. James’ tone…“

“Tone, or the ‘sound’ of my horn, is really crucial to me,” says James. “I practice my saxophone in my backyard studio every day when I’m not on the road. I’m still dedicated to trying to be a better player. I spend much of my time with a keyboard next to me and a computer behind me,” he continues. “So when I get a creative idea, I’ll reach over to the keyboard and pick out a few notes or record myself singing a melody. I start gathering pieces. Then I’ll build on them and gradually they’ll turn into songs. I get more and more excited and start spending 14-hour days out there. Before I know it, I’ve made an album. It’s amazing how it happens – like a ball rolling down a hill, it develops its own momentum.”

Of course this process would not be possible if James weren’t so skilled with the production technology – he says he views digital production as an instrument in itself. He almost certainly could not have imagined such a thing when, at age eight, he picked up his first instrument: the clarinet. “I really wanted to play the trumpet, but when we went to the local music store, all they had were clarinets,” he explains. “I had to have something that day, so I took one home. The saxophone came up two years later because there were so many clarinet players in the band. My teacher kind of leaned on me to switch,” James laughs. “It was fate.”

The ‘Analog’ tone of the Sax combined with the ‘Digital’ sounds of modern production contribute to the sonic tension that fuels futuresoul.

Boney says, “The track ‘Vinyl’ really embodies the blending of retro and modern,” as it represents the first time he has sampled a classic record.

'What you hear in the chorus,' he notes, 'is a ‘filtered’ piece of the Stylistics song ‘People Make The World Go Round.’'

Born in Lowell, Mass. and raised in New Rochelle, NY, Boney became seriously interested in music in the mid 70’s, a very vibrant and freewheeling period for popular music. “You could hear different genres all over the radio. Contemporary jazz was everywhere – people like Grover Washington Jr., Herbie Hancock and George Benson were stars,” he marvels. “Artists like Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire were incorporating jazz into what they were doing, and the jazz guys were mixing R&B into their sound. It was a great time to be a young musician.”

By 13, James – born James Oppenheim and nicknamed “Boney” in his mid–20’s when a meager touring per diem saw him growing thinner – was jamming in basements and garages. One summer during college, he found himself sitting in with some friends at a club. “Playing in a real club, with the energy of a real audience was such a fantastic rush,” he remembers. “That was the spark for my decision to become a professional musician.”

Following early pro gigs, (including sideman stints with Morris Day, The Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford and Teena Marie) James released his debut album as a leader, Trust, in 1992.

Over the following 23 years James has racked up sales of more than 3 million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CD’s atop the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009 Billboard Magazine named him the #3 Contemporary Jazz Artist Of The Decade (trailing just Kenny G and Norah Jones).

What’s in the future for futuresoul? Already making inroads at radio with the funky “Drumline” and the sultry “Either Way,” Boney will hit the road mid 2015 and continue touring throughout 2016.

James says, “When people ask me what category my music falls under, I always say, ‘It’s Boney James music’.”

Known for blurring the lines between genres, with futuresoul, Boney is doing the same between eras.

Let’s just call it “retro music for a modern age.”

Booklet for futuresoul

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