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  • Boney James ( Jazz Saxophonist)

    2 posts, 2 voices, 444 views, started Aug 26, 2010

    Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2010 by Denise Richardson

    • Diamond

      James “Boney James” Oppenheim, (born September 1, 1961 in Lowell, Massachusetts) is a two-time Grammy nominee and Soul Train award-winning saxophonist.  

      Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he took up the clarinet at the age of eight and switched to sax when he was 10. Boney James started his teen years in New Rochelle, New York, as a Motown fan, which has contributed to his R&B based style. He was also influenced by popular saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. When James was 15 his family moved to Los Angeles, where he joined a fusion band which had some success opening for acts like Flora Purim and the Yellowjackets. Another member of this early band was John Shanks, now a successful pop producer.  

      He received a history degree from UCLA, but began playing music full-time after graduation. He took up the keyboards and in 1985 played in Morris (“What Time Is It?“) Day’s band for four years. His R&B influence was strengthened by seven years of touring and sessions as a sideman with artists like Day, the Isley Brothers, Bobby Caldwell, Randy Crawford, Teena Marie and many others. It was on the road with Crawford that he earned his now-famous moniker; his per diem as a touring musician barely kept him fed, and a bandmate notoriously commented of his dwindling physique, “At this rate we’ll have to start calling you Boney James!”  

      In the early days, after joining Bobby Caldwell’s band, he caught the attention of the engineer/mixer & producer Paul Brown. In 1992 he released his debut album as leader (Trust) and was signed by the Warner Brothers label in 1994. In 2006 James moved to Concord Records and with the release of “Shine” achieved his career highest Billboard chart position.  

      In 2009, James released Send One Your Love, an album of romantic covers and original songs. He is married to actress/director Lily Mariye of television’s “ER.”

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