You'd never know it from the effortlessly soulful melodies and silky grooves of his records, but Boney James becomes a mad scientist in the studio while working to create sounds that feel as soothing as a tropical breeze. Shine finds the veteran musician conjuring an array of moods from the jaunty bounce of the title track and 'Gonna Get It' to the velvety seductions of 'Love Song' and 'Hypnotic', from the delicate 'In The Rain' and the introspective 'Dedication' to the ebullient stride of 'Let It Go'. What ties it all together, apart from Boney's endlessly lyrical, emotive playing on tenor, soprano and alto sax (among other instruments), is a glow of joy that's as evident in the records languid passages as in its most effusive solos Energized by a new release on a new label, Boney reaffirms his excitement about returning to the road. The communal experience of playing live thats why I became a musician in the first place, he insists. Its exciting and liberating. It never gets old for me.
Smooth jazz star Boney James's first album for Concord is loaded with guest contributors: old guard pros including Philip Bailey, George Duke, George Benson, and Wah Wah Watson; and young stalwarts including Faith Evans, Ann Nesby, Dwele, Esthero, and Christian Scott. You don't need to be told it's a sleekly produced affair, replete with real strings as well as synthesized ones and vocal choruses, and that it showcases James's candy-sweet sound on saxophones. But James, who produced the album, tilts more than usual toward contemporary R&B, with the Evans-sung "Gonna Get It" taking top honors. He also reaches into the Antonio Carlos Jobim songbook with "Waters of March," covered not long ago by Cassandra Wilson, and with Nesby doing the emoting, animates the Chuck Mangione ballad, "Soft," with rippling keyboards. In striving to expand his appeal, though, he doesn't sell his fans short. --Lloyd Sachs