Boney James has been releasing albums since 1992 and has maintained a steady presence on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, where he scored no less than 11 number ones, building a following of “lights out” smooth jazz fans. Many of those fans might be surprised, however, to spot James in old footage of Morris Day’s funky 1980s band, or realize he spent years touring and recording with R&B acts such as Bobby Caldwell, Teena Marie, and even the Isley Brothers.
James usually puts on more of an improv-heavy R&B stage show than the studied jazz club recital one might expect from a player usually lumped into the “pop instrumental” category, as the Grammys keep nominating him. His newest album Honestly continues the gradual transition from smooth jazz back to his earlier R&B roots, reaching number 22 on the Billboard Current Albums Chart. While not quite as steeped in soul as his last two releases, it’s one of the most genuinely funk-filled of his 16 studio full-lengths, especially the handclapping Funkadelic tribute “We Came to Party.” If you attend, be prepared and hold onto your wine glass. The usually sedate Temecula crowd might start tossing chairs and turn the whole place into a disco dance floor.