May 21. 2011

review and photos by:
Harvey Cline

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Riding the crest of seven straight weeks at number one on Billboard’s Jazz Charts, Boney James came into the home town of jazz great John Coletrane for a night of great jazz. He brought attitude to the sold out theater and entertained with music from his latest release Contact, as well as a few favorites.

As his four other band mates warmed the stage, Boney flowed onstage decked out in a grey jacket that matched his infamous hat along with black pants and the trademark white rimmed sneakers. His tenor shined as he played “Spin” from his latest release then going into “Nothin’ But Love” on that silvery alto that included some great keyboard work. He grabbed his tenor once more for the ever popular “Metropolis”. He showed off the bass works of Steve Smith and some great heavy guitar of Angie Swan on “All Night Long.” The Stevie Wonder penned “Creepin’” was made popular by Luther Vandross a few years later and was a nice addition as Boney brought the slow and deliberate approach to his soprano.

“Contact” took on a different meaning when he grabbed his tenor and headed into the crowd so they could hear this new one up close and personal. A couple of patrons were able to dance along to the hypnotic chorus of this one, and it became a crowd favorite right away. Staying with the new disc, Swan added the vocals to a very nice “When I Had A Chance.” All the musicians left the stage except for drummer Omari Williams as he and Boney carved a groove back and forth on “Stone Groove.” They were rejoined on stage as the band went into another cut from Contact entitled “Deep Time.” His alto shined as he slowed down the pace and the audience roared in approval. He brought out favorites “After The Rain” and “Let It Go” as he finished on a resounding high note. It was a marked contrast to the finger snaps and the soprano that introduced the classic “Ain’t No Sunshine.” He brought the crowd even higher as he finished out the set with title tracks “Sweet Thing” and “Ride.”

Everyone was standing and yelling for more as he came back on stage with the band to finish up with the fan favorite “Grazin’ In The Grass.” Swan provided the banter part of the song (since there was no trumpet) and the two of the played it off well with some great solos to end the night. The sold out performance was one that most patrons will remember for a long time. It’s easy to understand why he’s been on top of the jazz charts for the past couple of months, and the popularity of his live performances continues to grow. It was only fitting that I saw the show in the home town of such a jazz legend as it looks like there’s another one in the making.