By Jacqueline Miles
Saxophonist Boney James took time to talk with The Gulf Coast about his music, life and visit to Pensacola. Celebrating his 45th birthday September 1st, Boney (as he asked to be called) will also release his new album titled ‘Honesty’ followed by his appearance September 2nd at the Gulf Coast Jazz Festival.
“This album stands for something positive,” said Boney. This is something different from what I normally do, R&B style. One of his songs, ‘Skylark’ is a standard which he’s never recorded before. “I’ve always loved that song and it has such a beautiful melody and has stood the test of time. It’s something that I don’t normally do but I just wanted to bring a little bit of my sensibility and respect to the song. It was fun,” he said.
Boney began playing in the late 60’s in school. He initially wanted to play the trumpet but that spot was filled so he picked up the clarinet and became a very good player. “A couple of years later, my teacher wanted me to play the saxophone because he didn’t have a saxophone in the band and as soon as I picked it up I fell in love with it. From there it became my hobby and I played in garage bands, and started to try to write songs. By the time I became a sophomore in college I realized that the one thing I loved more than anything was music and I might want to try to make a career at that.” And a career he has made. Boney writes most of his songs personally. “On this album I wrote all of them except for ‘Skylark. ’ I can say that I’ve written about 80% of the songs I’ve recorded.”
Over the years, Boney has racked up sales of more than three million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CDs atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album’s chart. In 2009, Billboard named him one of the Top 3 Contemporary Jazz Artists of The Decade along with Kenny G and Norah Jones.
Boney lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 32 years, Actress/Director Lily Mariye and has written scores for her film projects.
“I’m looking forward to coming to Pensacola. It’s going to be a beautiful festival and I can’t wait to see everybody.”