Boney James
Send One Your Love

1/2 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

Boney James...playing in an elevator near you.

Maybe I should cut Boney some slack because he was smart enough to change his name from the very non-catchy James Oppenheim to his current nom de plume and he spent his youth in New Rochelle, a stone's throw from my own home town. NAH. He got his nickname because constant touring with the likes of Morris Day (the scene stealer in Prince's "Purple Rain"), and Bobby Caldwell left him looking like a starving musician. Based on his playing, they may have decided not to pay him. An admirer of Grover Washington Jr., James has boned up on Washington's brand of smooth jazz since his mentor's passing. In fact, he seems to have stolen Washington's entire sleep-inducing act. Boney's somehow managed to record a dozen previous albums, including "Boney's Funky Christmas." You're kidding me with that one, right James?

Boney's playing has a lot of melody, but no meat to it. He plays effortless, breathy tenor sax in the opener, "Wanna Show U Somethin'," which shows us nothing. He's flawless, but unexciting, a steady hum with all the brevity of a test of the National Emergency System. If his sax was hooked up to a heart monitor it would flat line. Boney borrows the samba beat from Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (which was stolen to begin with) and has Sue Ann Carwell on board to provide chirpy chicky vocals. That should tell you somethin'.

"Send One Your Love" is one of Stevie Wonder's better off forgotten hits from the mystifying "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants" album. The mostly instrumental effort made Stevie sound as if he was smoking his plants. He should have shared a toke with Boney - it might have at least made him an innovator instead of a tacky telegrapher delivering a note for note rendition minus the best part - Stevie. Boney's soprano sax playing is made saxier by layered strings and Tim Carmon's caramelized soft electric piano asides. But do we really need the oohing and aahing trio of Kim Brewer, Lynne Fiddmont and Kenya Hathaway? Nothing's brewing thanks to embarrassing cooing - and ace session guitarist Dean Parks (Crosby and Nash, Steely Dan) sounds asleep at the pick. It's music for the boudoir - providing you're Billy Dee Williams or Barry White.