New Holiday CD from Two-Time Grammy Nominated Sax Star Features Duets with Anthony Hamilton, Angie Stone, Chante Moore and More
Urban Jazz sax icon Boney James follows his Top 10 R&B and #1 Contemporary Jazz album Shine with a stirring new collection of holiday classics. The album finds James teaming up with fellow Grammy nominees Anthony Hamilton (on the holiday standard "Silent Night") and Angie Stone (on an update of the Charles Brown chestnut "Merry Christmas, Baby").
Also featured on the album are soul songstress Chanté Moore on the Eartha Kitt hit "Santa Baby" and former James collaborator, contemporary jazz trumpet sensation, Rick Braun on "The First Noel." James and Braun previously teamed up in 2000 for the album Shake It Up that topped the Contemporary Jazz charts for twelve consecutive weeks.
Christmas Present highlights James' always soulful playing, as well as his continued evolution as a multi-faceted Producer and Arranger, tackling gritty funk to neo-soul grooves, straight-up pop to straight-ahead jazz, and gospel to art rock. Says James, "I'm really proud of the way everything came out. Each track evolved as a unique soundscape. Some songs wanted to be more funky, some more traditional, and some took a path that I couldn¹t have envisioned. Ultimately, even with some of the more profound deviations from the traditional versions, the songs retain their identity. I really think it is a testament to why these songs are classics, and why their spirit shines through every year."
The album's emotional centerpiece, "Silent Night," finds James and Anthony Hamilton testifying to the songs roots with a stirring gospel reading set against only James' tenor saxophone, a Hammond B3 organ, and handclaps. If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear the church pews creak.
Other album highlights include James' gliding soprano saxophone on Vince Guaraldi's "Skating" (first made famous in "A Charlie Brown Christmas") and his hauntingly spare arrangement of Joni Mitchell's "River" that echoes the melancholy longing of her original. "I was always curious how some of my favorite holiday songs like 'Skating' and 'River' would sound on the sax," says James. "So for me, it was all about creating unique moods and framing these great melodies so that they would hopefully amplify what I feel when I hear the originals."
Perhaps the most surprising song on the album is James' "Roxy Music meets Peter Gabriel" take on "Auld Lang Syne": "This was one of those great moments where, although I was completely immersed in the song¹s creation (playing both sax and keyboards, creating the arrangement and producing the track) when I was finished, even
I was surprised by the final outcome. This arrangement for me really captured the sadness and the hope that we can all feel as one year ends and another begins."
Christmas Present is James' second holiday recording. His first, Boney's Funky Christmas, was released in 1996 and remains a consistent holiday best seller to this day. The complete track listing for Christmas Present is as follows:
1. Skating (Vince Guaraldi cover)
2. Santa Baby (featuring Chanté Moore)
3. O Tannenbaum
4. River (Joni Mitchell cover)
5. The First Noel (featuring Rick Braun)
6. Merry Christmas Baby (featuring Angie Stone)
7. My Grown Up Christmas List (David Foster cover)
8. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
9. Silent Night (featuring Anthony Hamilton)
10. Auld Lang Syne
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