Boney James, performing Thursday at the Rose, thrives online, and off

Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist coming to Huber Heights along with Will Downing.

Many artists shelved projects during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, deciding to hold releases until they could tour. Not Boney James.

James dropped his album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns. It is one of the most successful offerings in the Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist’s 30-year solo career.

“It was supposed to come out in April of 2020 but they pushed it back to June,” James said. “It was the pandemic and no one knew if any records would be able to get anywhere but the album actually did really well. Surprisingly, it was my highest debuting record on the Billboard pop charts, which is a cool thing. I think people were looking for something to do so a new Boney record was kind of a thing for a while there. It actually turned out OK.

“I was able to promote the record from my home studio,” he continued. “I did a lot of Facebook Live concerts. That actually became a thing where I did one every Friday. I did 30-some-odd mini-concerts from my studio so I was out there every week talking to fans and tens of thousands of people were watching. It was really cool and it gave me some purpose for a while.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Musical connections

The livestream concerts are still resonating with James and his fans two years later.

“People are still talking about how meaningful that was for them,” he said. “There was so much positive energy. For me, it was just so I wasn’t going to go crazy. I was grateful to have an opportunity to go out there and play my music for people but the positive reaction is still overwhelming.

“People were super grateful, like I was helping them through the pandemic,” he continued. “It was nice to have that sense of purpose. It really indicated to me just how important music is and that whole ‘Solid’ song cycle was really about how music is a relationship and a solid relationship.”

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James said his belief in the power of music was reconfirmed when he returned to sporadic performing in May 2021.

“When we finally got back out on the road, the reaction from the crowd was just overwhelming,” he said. “The first show post-pandemic was at a festival in Cabo, Mexico. It was like people at their very first show ever. It was really something, just the joy people felt at being out again and experiencing live music.

“We played some shows in June, July and August,” James continued. “Then, in the fall of 2021, we really went out and played like a 40-show bus tour. That was in that brief window when everyone thought you were safe if you were vaccinated. But, we’re back at work now and people are coming out so things are going pretty good.”

James is bringing his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights Thursday, July 21.

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Boney James, who dropped his 17th album, “Solid,” a few months into the 2020 lockdowns, brings his co-headlining tour with singer Will Downing to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Thursday, July 21.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Surprise studio time

When James wrapped those 2021 dates, his record company informed him it was time for a follow-up to “Solid.” He immediately switched into creative mode and began focusing on a new album.

“I had not really been planning to make a record,” James said. “Then, the label picked up my option in December and told me I essentially had six months to turn it in. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I better start getting busy,’ but it really came out fast and great. I’m in love with the new record.

“Luckily, the ideas are still flowing after all of these years,” he continued. “I started it in about January and I just turned it in a couple of weeks ago. This is going to be my 18th CD and it’s coming out in September. We haven’t made the big announcement about the title yet but I know it’s imminent.”

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the saxophonist’s debut album, “Trust,” which was produced by his longtime collaborator Paul Brown. In 2003, James began producing his albums, which he records in his home studio.

“Paul and I worked together for 10 years or so and made a bunch of increasingly successful records,” James said. “I started co-producing about halfway through that period just because I was interested in the process and really involved. After a while, I started to feel like I knew what to do. I didn’t want to have to fight about things so I decided to find out what it would sound like if I just did it by myself. So, we sort of broke up and haven’t looked back.

“I just found I really love it,” James added. “It’s almost like producing a record is a completely different musical instrument because you really get to shape the entire sound of the record and make all of the decisions yourself. It’s just a great feeling to have your finger on the creativity.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Boney James and Will Downing

Where: Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

7 p.m. Thursday, July 21. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Cost: $23.50, $31, $38, $47, $58, $68

More info: 513-232-6220 or www.rosemusiccenter.com

Artist info: https://boneyjames.com

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