When he was a kid, Boney James wanted to play the trumpet but the music store in his native New Rochelle, N.Y., only had clarinets. James mastered the woodwind instrument but then his music teacher asked him to pick up the saxophone. He agreed though he wasn’t happy with having to carry a heavy case.
The brass mouthpiece quickly became James’s favorite thing to play.
Today, the accomplished saxophonist is a four-time Grammy Award nominee, a Soul Train Award winner and is considered one of the top contemporary jazz artists.
He has sold more than three million albums and has been honored with two NAACP Image Award nominations for Best Jazz Album.
James, 56, plans to celebrate all things music and entertainment during a New Year’s Eve concert at Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa where he will kick off the holiday with his new release, “Honestly.”
The album — which marks James’s 25th anniversary as a solo artist — debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz and Contemporary Jazz charts and follows “futuresoul,” his 2015 release, which spent 11 weeks at the top spot on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.
Long before his chart success, James delivered pizzas while working as a sideman for artists like Morris Day and the Isley Brothers.
The vocalists showed the then-teenage James how to present himself on and off stage.
James cut his first album under his own name at age 30. The independently-released “Trust” led to a major label deal and a string of successful recordings and live dates.
“I was so new in the music business and it was a leap of faith,” James said of the album’s name.
His 16th album, “Honestly,” is a 10-track collection featuring uplifting arrangements, James said. He co-wrote all but one track — his interpretation of the Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael song, “Skylark.”
The inspiration behind the title was to reflect on how music made him feel good and he wanted to send out a positive word during so much negativity, James said.
With his latest albums, James said he approaches making music with much more confidence.
“Every time I go, I’m a blank slate,” James said. “That’s what makes the best music. I try to stay open.”
The New Year’s Eve concert will also feature DJ Jonathan Phillips, Pat Prescott from 94.7 The Wave and R&B hit-maker Jeffrey Osborne.
Osborne, a vocalist whose career includes Top 40 hits such as “On The Wings of Love” and “You Should Be Mine” (The Woo Woo Woo Song), has earned four Grammy nominations and five gold and platinum albums.
Osborne’s latest project, “Worth It All,” is set to release in January.
James said he is looking forward to providing a live, colorful show that will feature new and favorite songs.
“A musical concert is still a wonderful experience that you can’t replicate,” James said. “To be in a room filled with energy makes me feel great and I hope the audience feels the same way.”
If You Go
What: New Year’s Eve Party featuring Boney James, Jeffrey Osborne, DJ Jonathan Phillips and Pat Prescott
When: Doors open at 7 p.m. Dec. 31
Where: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, 21500 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Cost: $135 to $275