It's been a year since Boney James released his latest album, "The Beat." And the one thing he's learned during the past 12 months is that the songs work well on stage.
"This record did have a little bit of a live flavor to it, a lot of live interaction, so it's easy to translate into a live performance," says the 52-year-old saxophonist, who was born James Oppenheim in Massachusetts and now resides in Los Angeles. "It has the same flavor; it's the audience each night that's the unknown quantity. It can really spur things on to a different energy.
"A lot of my show is about audience interaction. I think of recording as a whole other medium than playing it live. It's apples and oranges. But the response to ('The Beat') has been great. I think people recognize that live flavor it has, and we're able to improvise and expand it even further when we play live."
Among the fan favorites is one of James', too -- his rendition of Stevie Wonder's 1974 Motown hit "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing," which accentuates the original's Latin flavor.
"The melodies are so fantastic, and the chords, too," says James, who's working on his own new material now as well as producing tracks for an upcoming George Duke tribute album. "Stevie has always been a big inspiration for me. He's an R&B guy with a lot of jazz influences in his music, and at the time I was awakening to music he was having his most fertile period, so his music was always influential on me.
"I've probably recorded three or four of (Wonder's) songs over the years, and I've met him a few times. Thankfully he's always really supportive and complimentary, which has been inspiring, too."
The Easter Jazz Spectacular with Boney James, Chante Moore, Najee, Pieces of a Dream and Gary Taylor takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit. Tickets are $59-$79. Call 313-237-7464 or visit www.motopera.org. <.b>
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