When most people hear the name Boney James, they immediately think of jazz. Not this time around. The saxophonist’s upcoming Warner Bros. release, “Ride” (Oct. 23), carries a decidedly more R&B bent, thanks to such guests as Dave Hollister, Angie Stone, Jaheim, former So So Def/Columbia artist Trina Broussard, and Impromp2’s Johnny Britt.
“I’ve always tried to be an R&B artist, but the problem is I can’t sing,” James says. “So I use my horn to sing, and because of that people have always considered me a jazz artist. I didn’t try to make this record different, but it’s true that it has a more intense, funkier feel than my previous albums. That’s just the way my music is evolving.”
James wrote most of the 10 cuts and produced “Ride” with longtime friend/partner Paul Brown. The urban market-targeted lead single, “Something Inside,” features Hollister and was written by Stone, Rex Rideout, Phillip Temple, and Sekou Aitken. It was released Sept. 17, the same day the smooth jazz-aimed single “See What I’m Sayin’?” — penned by James, Brown, and David “Khalid” Woods — was also sent to radio. The title track is expected to be the second R&B single.
When he started working on “Ride,” James knew he wanted several different musical flavors. “When I heard ‘Something Inside,’ I thought about Dave Hollister because I love his voice. ‘Ride’ is sexy but needed someone tough to sing it. I’d heard [Warner Bros. labelmate] Jaheim right before his CD came out. His voice has a real retro vibe, which is how I perceived my record. He was a perfect fit.”
James says the artists he listened to growing up — Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Grover Washington Jr., and Ronnie Laws — inspired his sound. “I’d try to learn how to play their songs when I first started. When I worked with Morris Day [of the Time], I became well-schooled with the Minneapolis sound. Then I worked with the Isley Brothers. All these experiences helped in terms of me vibing to different kinds of music.”
Upon the album’s release, James will concentrate solely on promotional dates while preparing for a full concert tour after the new year.