Christmas Present by
Boney James – reviewed by Chris Mann
is the season to be jolly and few people capture the joyful Christmas
spirit as well as Boney James, as he showed very well on 1996’s
“Boney’s Funky Christmas”. 2007’s outing, if anything, is even more
You sail into holiday mode with Vince Guaraldi’s
beautiful Skating and that soaring, effortless soprano sax
tells you that it’s a Boney James outing – and a good one. The
lilting, ¾ time song is a perfect vehicle for him to solo over a
lovely jazz trio setting. I think Boney James gets the urban smooth
jazz vibe right more times than most and on Santa Baby he hits
it right. It’s slow, sexy and has a luscious vocal courtesy of Chanté
Moore. Lenny Castro’s tricky seasonal percussion provides the
finishing touch, as it does with almost all of the songs on the CD.
Throw another log on the fire, cuddle up for O
Tannenbaum. It starts out smoky and slow then picks up pace and
leaves you smiling all over. Paul Jackson Jr.’s guitar solo is very
slick and I just love this version, especially when it subsides into a
peaceful lullaby at the end. Joni Mitchell’s River is
sprinkled with fragments of a “jingle bells” theme. It’s a tender
ballad and has a sweet melody – no drums, no bass, no guitar – just
that soprano sax and Tim Carmon’s restrained piano. It’s exquisite.
The mood stays relaxed for The First Noel, which
receives a nice, unadorned treatment. Rick Braun’s flugelhorn solo
adds just the right touch. I’m not sure holiday music has ever
sounded quite this good, and I’ve been listening to lots!
The BJ backbeat is back for Merry Christmas Baby. Angie
Stone’s vocal is outstanding on this version. Alex Al on bass and
Tony Maiden on guitar keep the pot boiling.
A change of pace for My Grown Up Christmas List
and Boney is back to the ballads which he does so well. I never seem
to be able to resist picking out from most CD’s I review a track that
belongs on a movie soundtrack – well, here we are again and it’s this
one. If they make another Bridget Jones sequel I want to hear this on
Let’s get back to more familiar territory: the melody
on Hark the Herald Angels Sing is as clear as a bell on a
frosty morning and you’d expect that for a classic like this.
Castro’s percussion gently drives this and it’s all it should be.
Silent Night features a vocal by Anthony Hamilton and his church
music roots show on this bluesy, gospel slow-burner. Auld Lang
Syne is very purposeful and measured. Dean Parks’ country-rock
guitar touches on this song lend it a real drama and turn a song I
don’t normally like into something truly original and bewitching.
If you want to sing, dance or just sit by the fireside
during the holiday season, this CD has something for you and I hope
it’s among some good things under your tree!
CCD-30329. Producer – Boney James