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Boney Fields And The Bone’s Project

Live at Jazz A Vienne - 11 tracks, 74.08 minutes(CD); 74.08 minutes + 40 minutes bonus material (DVD). (2009)

We Play The Blues – 13 tracks 68.03 minutes (CD) (2006)

A bundle of music here! The most recent offering is a double live CD/DVD combo recorded at Jazz à Vienne in 2008; the earlier CD dates from 2006. 4 tracks from the earlier studio CD are reprised on the live album.

Boney Fields is a Chicago native who plays trumpet, sings and composes. He originally came to Europe as part of Luther Allison’s band and stayed on. His main interest now is the Bone’s Project, a seven piece band with a three piece horn section which Boney has led since 1998, mainly performing in Europe.

The older studio album is an excellent introduction to Boney’s music. The band comes across as inspired by horn driven bands of the past such as James Brown’s. Boney wrote 8 of the songs here and covers classics by Deadric Malone, Jimmy McCracklin and Rev Gary Davis/Mississippi Fred McDowell (“You Gotta Move”). Guest Lucky Peterson contributes one song as well as guesting on two others while French harp ace Jean-Jacques Milteau and ex- James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley appear on two tracks each. Corey Harris and Martha High (another JB acolyte) also appear on one track.

There are many highlights on the CD, most tunes affording plenty of space for the players to demonstrate their skills. I liked the title track and the lengthy ballad “Don’t Let It Get You Down”. “Don’t Call Me Local” is one of the tunes that appears on both albums and is an interesting song, expressing the pride Boney has in his origins, despite living far away from home.

The live album has the same concert on both CD and DVD. The DVD has a 40 minute extra section with interviews with Boney himself and several of the guests on the older album, such as Lucky Peterson, Fred Wesley and Martha High, as well as Bernard Allison. The interviews are very supportive of Boney and his project, demonstrate the esteem in which he is held by his musician colleagues, but don’t provide a great deal of information on top of what we can see and hear on the discs. There are also two bonus tracks, “Your Good Thing’s About To Run Out” (the Lucky Peterson tune also on the studio album) and “Another Place In The Blues”. The former is an outtake from the Vienne concert, the latter was recorded at a festival in France in 2005. The older clip compares badly with the quality of the Vienne recording which, made with 7 cameras, is of the highest quality and captures all the players beautifully.

The live concert is a slightly tougher version of the type of music on the studio album. Again, plenty of long tracks offer room for solos, although some are overlong, in my view. As ever with live albums (unless judiciously edited) we get a lot of “Are you ready?” and exhortations to put our hands together, as well as the obligatory band introductions. The band is a real mixture of nationalities, with players from France, Italy, Martinique, Mauritius, Senegal and the USA; the music has a lot of funk in it and JB and Sly and The Family Stone are clear influences, though in places the horn arrangements demonstrate a touch of Chicago (the band, not the city!).

There are some outstanding solo moments; the sax solo on an excellent reggaefied version of “Funny How Time Slips Away”, the trombone on “Live In Peace” but this is mainly an ensemble effort. Worth investigating if you like horn driven music with shades of James Brown and Sly Stone. The CDs are not distributed in the USA but are available from I-Tunes and other digital platforms, as well as Amazon France. Boney’s website carries full details and is available in French and English versions.!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK 

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