As she begins a relationship with a new label, Leela James presents a selection of all-original songs, contrasting Let's Do It Again (Shanachie, 2009), where the classic soul singer paid tribute to iconic soul singers and songwriters who informed her career. The collection is refreshing, starting with the powerhouse" I Ain't New To This," which contains a sample of Millie Jackson's "Solitary Love Affair" during its intro. James keeps things going with "I Want It All," its thumping bass line a clear tribute to '70s funk. She doesn't want to sound retro here, using the arrangement more as reference than direct influence.
Those who have seen James perform live will attest that her shows are highly energetic, and the same goes for this disc. "Party All Night" is a step in that direction, and seems to have been written with the stage in mind. It possesses a strong backbeat, the perfect showcase for James' powerful pipes and a relentless dance track. But the greatest highlight is her "Mr. Incredible, Ms. Unforgettable," a sexy duet with Raheem DeVaughn (who also co-wrote the song), whose lyrics make this one of the greatest make-out songs this year yet. Can't wait to hear that in a live format.
Track Listing: I Ain't New To This;So Cold;The Fact Is; I Want It All;Party All Night; Mr. Incredible--Ms. Unforgetable; Tell Me You Love Me;Let It Roll; Supa Luva; If It's Wrong; It's Over.
Personnel: Leela James: vocals; Raheem Devaughn: vocals (4); Tiffany Wilson: background vocals; Milton Fletcher, Jr.: keyboards; Andrea Martin: background vocals; Shelby Johnson and Butter: background vocals; Mark Bowers: guitar, bass (9); Johhnie "Smurf" Smith: keyboards (10, 11); Ben Wendel: tenor sax; Bud Wales: tenor sax; Brenda Walkin: tenor sax; Dwayne Moore: bass (10); George "Spanky" McCurdy: drums (10).
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.