Jeff “Boday” Christensen plays interesting guitar. Clean, inventive. Tasty. Always has.
Way back in the mid-90s, Christensen broke out in the Twin Cities with Stan Kipper, Chico Perez, and Joel “Family Man” Arpin as part of the seminal Twin Cities Afro-Cuban rock crew One World. He could rip off licks fiery as a furnace, lay down chicken-scratch funk, or simply lull you with finesse—depended on what the occasion called for. He played on Straight from the Sun and stayed around long enough to do shows with them when Jenny Sanford (now of Bella Diva) was in the group. Then he jumped ship to go solo. “It was hard,” Christensen recalls, “because I loved the band. Stan and Chico and Joel…everybody who was in it. But I wanted to pursue this instrumental music thing. I always wanted to have my music on the radio, like the Ventures. I wanted to see if I could do it. I got noticed.”
That isn’t saying the half of it. He met with a program director at Cities 97 and brought along a demo of his first smooth-jazz CD Boday (now out of print). She hooked him up with a California connection—radio promoters All That Jazz Agency—and he hasn’t stopped getting airplay since. Three albums later (Do You Know, French Vanilla, Butterfly Legs), he’s on playlists all over America and is aired over syndicated Canadian outlet Café Jazz. He’s done studio gigs for national television and radio; he’s featured in ads for Adidas, Discover Card, and Best Buy. Working with the band Jesse Brad, he opened concerts for the likes of Bob Seger, Styx, and Cheap Trick. Here in the Twin Cities, he did session work for years at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios.
Nowadays, he occupies himself with a recently developed project, a cover band with vocalist Danielle Zenner. He calls it “a jazz duo and a pop, rock, R&B band. We’re all over the map.” The idea is to take in some of what money corporations can’t resist frittering away on entertainment in even these troubled times. “The band is a four-piece, with Danielle fronting. [She’s] really steeped in the standards. Anything from ‘Summertime’ to ‘Misty’, all of them. And she can sing the Heart bag, can do her Aretha [Franklin] thing.”
Highly recommended off Butterfly Legs are the rich original “Bright Nites” and a sterling rendition of Sade’s “Hang On To Your Love.” For Do You Know, Boday (that’s the name he records under) went to hell with himself, knocking out a true tour de force. “Central Park,” straight from the Wes Montgomery school of swinging sophisticato, is an irresistibly jaunty strut that will have you tapping and nodding along before you know it. For the bridge, Christensen caps things off nice with a judicious taste of funk. “Since I Met You (The Ebony Mix)” mesmerizes: a dark, beautiful turn on acoustic guitar. If you enjoy the best jazz has to offer, you are going to love listening to this album.
Even in this locale, which is known for musicians with monster chops, the guy is a standout.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.
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