22 APR 13 JONATHAN WIDRAN
To paraphrase the Go-Gos, over decades after launching one of contemporary urban jazz’s most storied careers, Boney James has still got The Beat -- the name of his new disc on Concord marking a dynamic return to the label, which previously released Shine (2006), Christmas Present (2007) and Send One Your Love (2009).
In the years since he recorded Antonio Carlos Jobim’s iconic “Aquas De Marco” on Shine, James had been flirting with the idea of recording a full-on Latin and Brazilian-themed collection. As he built a playlist of classic tunes he might consider covering, one that kept coming back to him was “Batucada (The Beat),” originally recorded by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66.
Re-imagining it as a funk tune, James added a backbeat, updated the male-female vocal dynamic via sax and trumpet with Rick Braun and turned the piece into a dynamic hybrid -- “a samba,” he says, “as if the Ohio Players were doing it.” Another key track which connects to the world music flow is the spoken word hip-hop tune “The Midas (This Is Why).” It features UK poet and musician The Floacist (Natalie Stewart), best known as one half of the Grammy-winning neo-soul duo Floetry. The versatile saxophonist’s fluid, grooving sound has led to four certified gold albums and three Grammy nominations.
One of his trademarks on each recording is his interaction on several cuts with top R&B vocalists. The Beat’s first Urban AC single “Maker Of Love” grew out of a conversation that James had with singer Raheem DeVaughn on Twitter.