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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

José James: Lean On Me

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Already known for his crisp production values, astute musicianship and eclectic presentations, Jose James delivers again with his tribute to Bill Withers, Lean on Me. The album reaffirms James' signature attention to stylistic pastiche while further refining his thematic focus on the subtleties of human relationships. Here James' narcotic blend is simultaneously steeped in tradition and floats at the horizon of modernity. The beats penetrate with unabashed eroticism. James' voice coos with soul and cuts with the dirty ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest

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Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers Le Poisson Rouge NYC Winter Jazzfest New York, NY January 1, 2018 By the time José James took to the stage for his headlining slot on a quadruple-bill event that served as the second stand-alone concert in the 2018 NYC Winter Jazzfest schedule, three hours of music had already come and gone. Knower's electro-pop, complete with an expletive-laced introduction, ushered in the evening; the No ...

JAZZ NEAR ME

Sun and Stars at Montclair Jazz Festival

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At the 2015 Montclair Jazz Festival, the sun broiled and the stars sparkled over some 6,000 jazz fans, that number announced by emcee Gary Walker, a popular WBGO radio on-air personality. Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for her 17 seasons as Lieutenant Van Buren on NBC's “Law and Order," was back as the festival's Mistress of Ceremonies. The annual one-day event, free to all comers, was held at Nishuane Park and produced by the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

José James: Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday

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There are many reasons why singer Billie Holiday is so admired--her captivating beauty, crafted phrasing, and the singular way she imbued emotion through each note. Yet the jazz legend known as “Lady Day" not only sung the blues, she lived it. In a storied life filled with heartaches, hardships and personal demons that included a long struggle with substance abuse, she eloquently articulated and expressed many of those sentiments in albums such as Lady Sings the Blues (1956, Verve) and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jose James: While You Were Sleeping

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Jazz has always had a soft spot for pop music. Icons like trumpeter Louis Armstrong blessed the masses with his positivity and raspy voice in 1967's “What a Wonderful World" and saxophonist John Coltrane transformed Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1960 musical smash “My Favorite Things" into a swinging affair. Fast forward to 2014 as singer, songwriter and producer Jose James continues the practice with a fine rendition of 1972's “Simply Beautiful" by the one-time prince of R&B, vocalist Al Green.

LIVE REVIEWS

Jose James at Dazzle

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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. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jose James: No Begining No End

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With the panache of Marvin Gaye and the smoothness of neo-soul artist D'Angelo, singer José James has been dubbed the “Smokey Robinson for the new generation." That's some heavy but deserving press as James' previous releases- -2010's Blackmagic and 2008's The Dreamer (both on Brownswood Records)--bear witness. With his Blue Note debut, No Beginning No End's decidedly marketed project eschews the limitations of James being labeled just a “jazz singer" with a recording that swirls together jazz, hip hop, R&B, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jose James: No Begining No End

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Smoother than cognac and just as refined, No Beginning No End drips with an unabashed sensuality both subtly delivered and painfully personal. With his Blue Note debut, Jose James employs the terrifying capacity of his voice to penetrate the heart of deeper, more hidden spaces and lay bare the emotional contours of urban existence.To accomplish this feat, James wraps the distinct timber of his voice in a contemporary cloak that weaves together jazz, R&B, electronica, pop, funk, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jose James and Jef Neve: For All We Know

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A newsworthy release, not just for the poised American songbook performances of Minneapolis-born, London-based singer José James and his accompanist, Belgian pianist Jef Neve, but also for its issuing label. The iconic Impulse! is not best known for vocal albums. Under its present owners, Universal Music/Verve, the onetime home of the new thing and its standard bearer, saxophonist John Coltrane, was mostly dormant during the 2000s, aside from a burst of reissue activity mid-decade to coincide with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jose James: The Dreamer

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Listen out for this guy in 2008. Vocalist Jose James isn't going to be the next Jamie Cullum--his style is too understated and his attitude faces purposefully away from the mainstream--but The Dreamer, Brooklyn-based James' debut album, has star quality.

James made a splash in late 2007 with a reworking of John Coltrane's “Equinox," and he's four-square in the post-bop vocal tradition established by older singers like Mark Murphy, Jon Lucien and Leon Thomas. But there ...