Boney James Eyes 12th Number One Album with ‘Detour’ and Dream Collaboration with Lalah Hathaway
When music of a certain caliber comes across our radar we have to stand still and appreciate it for its value and with Boney James’ latest offering we did just that. The four-time GRAMMY nominee is gearing up for his forthcoming anticipated project ‘Detour.’ Noted as one of the Top 3 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Decade with eleven number ones , we had a chance to catch up with James to discuss new music, upcoming shows and more.
Last month you released a song ‘Bring It Back’ featuring Dontae Winslow. It is such a suave work of art. How did this collaboration come together?
I saw a YouTube video of Kamasi Washington playing live and Dontae was in the band blowing an amazing solo. I knew I wanted a trumpet solo on the track right from the beginning, it just had that energy that said “brass” to me. So I tracked Dontae down and he agreed to come over and play the session in my home studio. The interplay between us is one of my favorite moments on the record. I’ve since found out Donate also is a great composer and conductor, he even worked on the Oscars this year!
Jazz is in our opinion a slept on genre and it takes a devoted lover of music to value it. Combined with R&B it is a match made for endless bliss. What is it about the genre that attracted you to pursuing it and how do you want others to remember you when it pertains to it overall?
I grew up loving R&B and started playing sax when I was 10.When you play sax, there is a lot of Jazz music to study featuring the horn with incredible playing and creativity. I love the freedom of improvisation. But for me, music really came alive when I heard artists like Grover and The Crusaders and Earth Wind and Fire combined Jazz and R&B together. That’s the tradition I am trying to carry in today. I never really think about “legacy.” Just trying to do great work every day.
‘Detour’ is your upcoming project releasing late next month and we were told it features 5-time GRAMMY winner Lalah Hathaway. It already sounds like a future GRAMMY nomination in our book, however what can listeners expect from the project and why was Lalah the voice of choice to be a part of the experience?
The new record title refers to the collective detour the world took over the last couple years. It also affected my music and the new record has some unexpected moments on which, made the title seem even more apt. Working with Lalah has long been a dream of mine and I am so proud of what we made together with this song “Coastin.” I’ve had some dream collabs before and this is at the top of the list!
Majority of ‘Detour’ was recorded in your Los Angeles studio. Is that where you make your best music or was it a change from your usual routine? Also are there any other names involved that we may recognize that helped bring this new body of work to life?
I’ve been working in my Backyard studio since I started producing my records by myself in 2003. It’s such a privilege to roll out of bed and come out here to work. The record features a great cast of musicians. My touring drummer Omari William and guitarist Big Mike Hart. Co-producer on a few tracks Jairus Mozee (Anderson Paak, Anthony Hamilton), long time friends Paul Jackson Jr (guitarist) and Lenny Castro (percussion.).
You have a hard benchmark to matchup with the success of your last project ‘Solid’ that debuted at #10 on Billboard. What did you enjoy about making the previous project and how do you feel it differs from what you’ve created this go around? Do you find yourself trying to outdo your latest work or do you just create what is on your heart/mind?
I am always just trying to be a blank slate with a new record and out the last one out of my mind.
18 albums in… whew that’s quite the accomplishment. What keeps you motivated after so many releases and do you find yourself stopping any time soon?
It does sound like a lot! I still love the process, it hasn’t gotten old for me. I just get the urge to create things and music is my medium. I see artists like George Benson, David Sanborn and so many others still out there and it inspires me.
Preorder ‘Detour’ available September 23rd and watch Boney James and Lalah Hathaway perform ‘Coastin’ below.