Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2019

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Jazz artist James goes for sexy in latest CD

Musician Boney Jame


Boney James

If You Go

  • Who: Boney James
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Railhead, Boulder Station
  • Tickets: $29 to $59; 547-5300

He’s an award-winning jazz saxophonist with several gold records under his belt, but Boney James doesn’t consider himself a jazz musician.

“I like to refer to my music as ‘Boney James music,’ ” James says as he gets ready for a Baltimore concert and looks forward to returning to the much warmer climate of his Southern California home.

The 48-year-old musician, born James Oppenheim in Lowell, Mass., is one of the best-selling smooth jazz artists of the day, in the vein of Kenny G.

“I think my music is a unique thing, a combination of R&B and jazz and pop,” he says.

The person who most influenced his style was the late Grover Washington Jr., one of the founders of the smooth jazz-pop style in the 1970s.

“The first time I heard him I was about 13,” James says. “It was his record ‘Mister Magic,’ one of the first platinum-selling jazz records, and it still sounds great today. It has a very R&B sort of groove and this incredible improvisational over the top of it, and when I heard it a big light bulb went off over my head and I realized I could do both.”

James will perform Saturday at Boulder Station, where he has performed many times before.

He has a special connection to Vegas — his wife is actress Lily Mariye, who was born and raised here. She portrayed nurse Lily Jarvik on TV’s “ER” from 1994 until the show was canceled in April.

Among other things during his upcoming concert, James will play cuts from his latest album, “Send One Your Love.”

“(This is) my 12th CD and my first concept album,” James says. “I thought I would do a different process this time, go in and make a certain kind of record.”

He calls it a “make out” record.

“Many people see the saxophone as a sexy instrument, so I came up with six great love songs and wrote four of my own and created the album. I think people love the instrumental music, especially the sax, so I take some of the songs people love and do my own interpretation.”

Among the tracks are covers of songs by Stevie Wonder (the title track), Barry White (“I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby”), and James Taylor (“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”).

But James prefers playing his own compositions.

“I have done the occasional covers, and they have attracted a lot of attention,” he says. “Some of my biggest hits have been covers. People gravitate to something they know.”

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