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Originally published: 11/06/2022

Boney James comes to Sony Hall

(NEW YORK, NY) — Boney James is coming to Sony Hall in New York City on Sunday, November 20 at 8:00 p.m. He tours in support of detour (released September 23 on Concord Records) – his 18th studio album. This aptly titled latest album is a subtle stylistic twist that builds on the commercial success of the 2020s Firmlyhis highest charting release to date on the pop charts, peaking in the top 10 on the Billboard 200.

“The urge to write again came from the joy of being on the road again and performing in front of live audiences,” explains Boney. “I had creatively shut down when the pandemic hit. It’s been the disruptive and confusing detour we all took when the world was on lockdown, and that’s reflected in the more experimental directions some of the new music is taking. The thing with the detour, you take a different route, but you still get to your destination.”

As Firmly, detour offers a welcome respite from an increasingly grim world of political strife. It’s a journey through James’ distinctive contemporary jazz/R&B landscapes, overlaid with mercury watercolors and cinematic props. Detour is the next extension of Boney James’ signature blend of genres, which includes blues, soul, roots, classical, art-pop and hip-hop.

“Some people think I’m a legend,” Boney laughs of his status as one of music’s best-kept secrets. “And others who have never heard of me. It’s kind of a nice place to live and play. I feel a lot of positive energy about the music I’ve been making lately and I’m enormously grateful for that.”

“Coastin'” starring Lalah Hathaway, a breezy ride through Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, was the debut single on Urban Adult Contemporary radio. “I’m so thrilled to finally have the opportunity to work with Lalah,” says Boney. “I’m a huge fan and it was an absolute joy to co-write this song and to come and sing this amazing performance.”

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James’ new album begins with the title track, a curvaceous, playful sax/piano duet that evokes an airy, leisurely drive down the open road and features some of Boney’s most adventurous playing. “I close my eyes and listen,” he says of choosing a name for a particular cut, and “Detour” fits this one perfectly. “The title is my attempt to poetically convey what I feel when I hear the music.”

There are also “detours” along the way for a steamy, sweaty summer day in a bluesy “Memphis,” a shimmering glimpse of the Northern Lights via Boney’s chilling soprano sax solo (“Northern Lights”), and even the fleeting present moment in the heartbeat that the closing “Blur” opens, a wistful lullaby that nonetheless points us to the future.

“Bring It Back,” the first radio-focused contemporary jazz track, features a patented, warm Boney melody accentuated by a spirited, funky dot counterpoint between James’ rhythmic tenor sax and the punchy trumpet licks of new jazz West Coast musician Dontae Winslow. “That interaction is one of my favorite moments on the album,” says Boney.

“Tribute” is a tribute to Boney’s father, an entertainment lawyer who represented him for most of his life and who died last October. It’s a rhythmically complex neoclassical meditation, both “harmonically jazzy” but with a finger-snapping hip-hop pulse. “The Loop” takes a drumbeat from touring drummer Omari Williams (looped, of course) recorded in mono straight to Boney’s iPhone, and, yes, detours into a meandering, twangy Wes Montgomery-esque blues guitar solo that gently ebbs and flows like a rolling tidal wave. “It’s pretty wild,” says Boney. The saxophone/bass duet on “Intention” has a seductive intimacy, an idea that came up with the production team Anakin & Vader.

detour was recorded largely at Boney’s LA home studio in his backyard (live drums and percussion recorded in the venerable Sunset Sound), with both regular collaborators including the band’s former guitarist-turned-writer/producer Jairus “J-Mo” Mozee (Anderson.Paak, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Hamilton) and hot newcomer BeatsMadeByFresh aka Christian Frazier. Among the other musicians on the album are keyboardist Tim Carmon (Eric Clapton), longtime drummer Omari Williams and bassist Alex Al, renowned percussionist Lenny Castro, and guitarists Big Mike Hart and Paul Jackson Jr.

Dubbed Boney or Bones or Boneman (although his wife calls him Jimmy) by bandmates during a tour in Oslo, Norway, after jokingly threatening to starve himself on a flimsy daily allowance, Boney has lost his proverbial 10,000 hours as a musician, Performer and writer spent and producer. A native of New Rochelle, NY at the age of 10, after 2 years on the clarinet, he took up the saxophone and has never looked back to express his love of R&B – Motown, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield and Grover Washington, Jr. — into a musical aesthetic. Turning pro before his 20th birthday, he became a sought-after touring saxophonist and keyboardist for Morris Day, the Isley Brothers, Teena Marie, Bobby Caldwell, Randy Crawford and many others.

Increasingly frustrated with playing other people’s music, Boney launched his own solo career in 1992 trust on the indie Spindletop Records. His next 17 studio albums – including two Christmas albums – were released by Warner Bros., Verve and Concord, in 1995 seduction1997 sweet thing and 1999s body language all RIAA certified gold. In 2015, Boneys future soul spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and was the best-selling contemporary jazz record of 2015.

During his 30-year career, Boney has received four Grammy nominations (“I’m not going to lie…I’d still love a statue,” he says), two NAACP Image Award nominations, and a Soul Train Award while earning a dozen of his Albums have charted at #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. Past collaborators include a who’s who of R&B and soul: Raheem DeVaughn, Faith Evans, George Benson, George Duke, Dwele, Al Jarreau, Philip Bailey, Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim, Eric Benét, Dave Hollister, Stokley Williams, Kenny Lattimore and Angie Stone.

For the inimitable Boney James, life begins at 60. The cat in the hat is back and better than ever, enjoying life with his 37-year-old wife, actress/director Lily Mariye.

“What drives me is my love of making music and my desire for people to hear what I’ve made,” he says. “I still love the collaborative aspect of performing live. There is nothing like it.”

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