Boney James – Body Language – Track by Track

Body Language recording by contemporary and smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James
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Body Language from Boney James was released on February 23, 1999 on Warner Bros. Records. A track by track summary was sent with the promotional material to radio stations. I thought fans of the smooth jazz superstar would want to know the origin of the songs from this recording.

From Boney in 1999:

“Are You Ready” – Some great new relationships came from a tour I did, sharing a band with Regina Bell and Will Downing. The bass player, Ronnie Garret, is from Atlanta and he, Darryl Simmons (from Silent Partner Productions) and Rex Rideout sent me the track of a vocal tune they had written. I created my own melody, collaborating with these three guys-two of whom I hardly knew. It’s a mid-tempo, very sexy groove with Chelle Davis singing the background. I play soprano saxophone and there is a wind-synthesizer solo, which I think is pretty neat, as well. This whole CD is daring for me, musically, and it seemed appropriate for the first track to ask the question, “Are you ready?” 

“Into The Blue” – This is a song I wrote with my friend Leon Bisquera, a guy I’ve collaborated with a few times in the past. When I first played this, I got the mental image of flying and that’s where the title came from, the blue sky. It’s a completely live track with a 22-piece orchestra and it’s got energy that really takes off. There are tremendous images of flying, soaring, rocket ships and all that. It features a beautiful piano solo by David Torkanowsky, an amazing player who adds a unique sound to all my records. 

Body Language recording by contemporary and smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James“Body Language” – Body language is non-verbal communication and, to me, instrumental music is the coolest kind of music because it says so much without words. The whole concept of this record is to communicate moods without verbally telling people what the feelings are. This is another song that came out of Atlanta. I wrote it with Phil Davis, the keyboard player on that tour. This track has many different qualities with conflicting emotions conveyed; it’s intense and seductive. When I write a song, I have no preconceived idea of what it is about. When it’s done, I search for the feeling and then communicate that emotion through the title. I think of my music as body language and I decided it was an appropriate name, not only for this track, but also for the entire CD. 

“I’ll Always Love You” – This is a tune that I wrote with my friends, Johnny Britt and Sean Thomas. This song was conceived as an instrumental but I thought that it would make a better vocal tune. I actually collaborated on the lyrics on this one. This is a very romantic song about eternal love and two people deciding to get married. As an instrumentalist, I shy away from doing vocal music and this is one of very few vocal tunes I’ve ever recorded. It features the group, Shai. I think it’s a really successful marriage of my instrument with the instrument of their voices. 

“Boneyizm” – I love Erykah Badu’s record, Baduizm. I’ve got a silly sense of humor sometimes, and I used the name Boneyizm as the working title in my sequencer when I was creating this track because I thought the drum groove was sort of like her records. My friends convinced me to keep it as the final name for this song. It’s hard for me to define “Boneyizm.” People keep telling me that I have an identifiable style on the saxophone, so hopefully that is displayed on this track. The tune also features the great Rick Braun on flugelhorn. 

“Love Fest” -This is another joke name that stuck. I wrote this with Leon Bisquera and when the song was completed I said, “Man it’s a love fest.” I think this is such a wonderful feeling song, very much influenced by my favorite music when I was growing up and becoming interested in music, in the ’70s. It’s sort of a retro-fusion track that reminds me of some early Grover Washington, Jr. and early George Benson. It’s also a completely live track with the orchestra, arranged by Jerry Hey. It’s a Latin-flavored, “love fest,” party track. 

“Bedtime Story” -This song actually sprang full-form into existence, and I recorded the basic ideas for it one rainy afternoon. My friend David Torkanowsky came around a few weeks later and played the solo on it. He said that the song sounded like rain, but I didn’t want to use “rain” in the title because I had a hit on my last record called, “After the Rain.” I kept listening to the song and I realized that the saxophone performance has a lot of different hills and valleys. I felt like I was telling a story musically. It has a peaceful quality, a bit of a childlike feeling, so that all contributed to the motivation for the title, “Bedtime Story.” 

“I Get Lonely” – This is a Janet Jackson song from her Velvet Rope record. I don’t listen to much pop music, but the first award show I ever attended was last year’s Soul Train awards when I won. The first performance that evening was Janet Jackson singing this song and I was completely blown away. My wife, Lily, suggested that I try a sax version. Most of the guys in my touring band were in town and we went into a studio and experimented, trying to make it feel like one of my songs instead of one of Janet’s. We came up with this arrangement and it turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the record. 

“All Night Long” – I worked on this with Mark Stevens, a keyboard player I perform with. I was trying to make it work as an instrumental and there was one section I couldn’t figure out. The drummer in my band, Donnell Spencer, Jr., came by the studio one afternoon and he sang the “All Night Long” chorus. I put six tracks of him singing the vocal on tape. He was sick and said he couldn’t sing but I thought it sounded great. I sampled it into my sequencer and that performance ended up on the record -over his protest -because it has a great vibe. It has live strings and a solo from Tony Maiden, the original guitar player for Rufus. It’s another retro track with a bit of the energy I love so much in the soul and contemporary jazz music of the mid ’70s. 

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