7

Jose James at Dazzle

Geoff Anderson By

Sign in to view read count
Jose James
Dazzle
Denver, CO
April 23, 2014

Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Gil Scott-Heron. Mix them together, bring them into the 21st Century and you end up with something that sounds a lot like Jose James. Wednesday night at Dazzle, 36-year-old James brought his band and updated soul sound to Denver. He also brought along a plethora of other influences like R&B, jazz, funk, some rock and a touch of hip hop. Another aspect of the James sound was his hypnotic, trance-like sound. Many of his tunes had a dreamy, head-nodding vibe.

Born in Minneapolis, James later moved to New York and studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. During his studies, he came in contact and collaborated with an array of diverse artists and expanded his already eclectic talents and interests.

He began Wednesday night's performance with a number of songs from his forthcoming album While You Were Sleeping (Blue Note, 2014). Although it will be his fifth album, he wasn't widely known until his fourth album (his first album for Blue Note Records) was released last year, No Beginning No End (Blue Note, 2013). A highlight Wednesday evening from the upcoming album was "Anywhere U Go" which had a muscular, funky bass line but also managed to maintain the laid back, nearly hypnotic feel all at the same time. Certainly, James' smooth, smoky voice has a lot to do with it. James is one of those singers who can simultaneously sound both casual and forceful.

Later in the set, James worked in some cover tunes. A medley of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Grandma's Hands" matched the evening's vibe. It also featured an extended solo by Kris Bowers on the Rhodes electric piano. Bowers played several solos throughout the evening, usually on the Rhodes, but he also had a couple synthesized keyboards he used as well. Solomon Dorsey stepped into the spotlight a couple times for bass solos. He also added some occasional harmony vocals. Through the evening, he switched back and forth between an electric bass and a keyboard he used for the bass parts. The keyboard usually got lost in the mix, but the electric bass forcefully propelled the bottom end.

Drummer Richard Spaven supplied the understated syncopation, sometimes throwing in some hip hop style rhythms. Guitarist Brad Williams was the newest member of the group and only stepped up for one extended solo late in the set. Most often, he provided short fills and atmospherics which helped create the trance effect. Typically, James simply sang, but he picked up an acoustic guitar for several songs.

Toward the end of the set, James mashed it up with "Just the Two of Us" and Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay." Overall, the James sound had much in common with the vibe of the latest Dianne Reeves album Beautiful Life (Concord, 2014) or with some of the recent work of the Robert Glasper Experiment (i.e. Black Radio (Blue Note, 2012)).

Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Ian Shaw With The Phil Ware Trio at The Workmans Club" Live Reviews Ian Shaw With The Phil Ware Trio at The Workmans Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Brilliant Corners 2016" Live Reviews Brilliant Corners 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 19, 2016
Read "Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases" Live Reviews Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!