CD Review of Shine by Boney James

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starhalf starno starno starno star Label: Columbia
Released: 2006
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The popular complaint lodged against guys like Boney James – or Kenny G, or Dave Koz – is that what they’re doing isn’t “real jazz.” This is obnoxious. It’s the whining of people who think they’re smarter and have better taste than everyone else, and it has no place in honest music appreciation.

That being said, this Boney James album? Like all his others, it isn’t jazz. It’s difficult to determine what it is, really, because you can’t hear much of it over the sound of Coltrane and Davis spinning in their graves.

You will enjoy this album if you miss the years 1987-1993, or if you were heartbroken when David Sanborn stopped using so many drum machines, or if you wish there was less singing on old Michael Franks records. Otherwise, listening to it may result in deep confusion and/or despair. And the thing is, the fact that it isn’t “real jazz” is almost irrelevant. There’s room for all sorts of instrumental music in the world. But these performances are so bloodless, so arid, they make Sanborn’s Close-Up sound like A Love Supreme.

James and his band clearly have the chops (and, God willing, the money) to make a hard left turn into more enjoyable territory, but if they haven’t done it yet, they most likely never will. So the line in the sand has been drawn. Those of you who have been looking for music that somehow actually manages to smell like Drakkar Noir, this is your album. Everyone else out of the pool.

~Jeff Giles