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Boney James: The Beat

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On his 14th album, Boney James demonstrates how working within a familiar range need not be limiting. He doesn’t deviate much from the R&B-inflected saxophone sound that made him one of smooth jazz’s most popular artists, but he places it in a variety of settings both classic and contemporary.

James opens with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” slowing the original’s Latin rhythm slightly to an easy groove, his soprano saxophone fluttering gracefully around the well-known melody. Things get more contemporary on “The Midas (This Is Why),” where singer and spoken-word artist Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart (formerly of the R&B duo Floetry) turns in a breathy vocal performance that provides an atmospheric, hypnotic counterpoint to James’ funky grooving.

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