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October 2004

Boney James
Pure
Warner Brothers

Boney James' Pure (Warner Bros.) marks the popular smooth-jazz saxophonist's debut as a solo producer-he'd previously worked closely with top producer Paul Brown-and it reveals an artist who's willing to venture to the edges of smooth jazz. Sure, the tunes on this album possess the easy accessibility that's typical of smooth-jazz music, but James leaves off a bit of polish on some of the tracks, like the dark, dusky "2:01 A.M." "Thinkin' 'Bout Me" combines singer Ledisi's vocals with a horn section, organ washes, and James' gritty, bluesy sax to create a big, retro-soul production, while the urban-tinged "Stone Groove" features jazzy piano from Joe Sample. The vocal tracks, particularly "Break of Dawn" and "Appreciate," are rhythmic R&B numbers, and on "You Don't Have to Go Home," bluesy sax and organ shadings evoke a late-night feel. James says that creating the album helped assuage his grief after the death of his older brother, and that the loss inspired him to live more in the present and explore ideas as they come. On this album, those ideas have taken him in some interesting directions.

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James Minchin

Boney James

Originally published in October 2004
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