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Black Magic Import
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Brooklyn-based, Panamanian/Irish 20-something James honed his jazz chops by scatting along to Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong between rapping to hip hop albums and writing lyrics to tracks by Coltrane.
He took a pretty direct route to getting DJ/zeitgeist monitor Gilles Peterson's attention. He flew over to London, went out clubbing and slipped the hugely influential DJ and prescient A&R man a copy of his demos.
Intrigued by the hip young singer's attitude and by his subtle baritone smokey, dusky vocals, Gilles Peterson took a listen and - blown away by his stunning vocal version of Trane's classic tune "Equinox" - immediately signed him to his thriving young indie label Brownswood.
Thus he bursts on to the scene, jazz guns blazing, blasting away the likes of Michael Bublé and Jamie Cullum and proving himself the sort of singer jazz lovers have been crying out for.
The album takes a couple of plays to really appreciate and is more soul oriented than his debut "The Dreamer".
"Promise In Love" and "Greater Good" are nice soulful mid tempos with horn backing.
"Lay You Down' has a D'Angelo feel to it, and "Save Your Love For Me" is a nice beat ballad.
The more acoustic jazzier "Touch" has great keyboards and "Warrior" is heavier jazz.
All in all, this is strong album from one of jazzs hippest young performers on the market : for jazz fans or romantics, there's plenty to admire and whether it makes you want to catch James live, or put the CD on at dinner parties for some soothing, unobtrusive backing,there's a goldmine to be tapped.Read more ›
I am more than happy to say that James topped himself with his sophomore release, Blackmagic.
It's entirely unfair (and incorrect) to categorize Blackmagic as a straight jazz album. Blacksmagic defies categorization. James recalls legends like Gil Scott Heron, Terry Callier and Jon Lucien in that he comes from an angle that's both jazzy at its core AND conventionally soulful all while creating a lushly unique vibe that is all his own.
The brilliant Flying Lotus, DJ Mistsu the Beats, Taylor McFerrin (son of Bobby) and Moodyman all contribute production, helping to further defy categorization. FL's three contributions (Code, the standout Made for Love and the title track), in particular, all arrive at a perfect meeting point that merge his trademark celestialness with James' wistful old-soul groove.
All thirteen of Blackmagic's tracks (as well as the slow burning 10-minute jazz vocal piece "The Light" that rounds out the album as a bonus track) radiate with so much soul, feeling and creativity.
This album is proof that good music is still being made and released. You just won't hear it on the radio!Read more ›
James' simplicity often invites comparisons to Jon Lucien and Terry Callier. But, for me, Lucien's rarely been as consistently engaging as James, and Callier, while closer, embraces a folksiness that the urbane James has yet to demonstrate. On cuts like "Beauty," the old guard of Black jazz crooners like Arthur Prysock and Johnny Hartman, with their husky, yet opal smooth baritones are better fits, fathers of Jose James iconoclastic image and ever enriching singing style (if any of those guys could also exhibit a rapper's flow, I'd call for DNA testing). James' melting vocals have matured from his youthful hug of rap cadences to those of a legitimate, traditional balladeer, with only a couple of exceptions like "Code." Instead of freestyles, the singer unveils new range and movement on soft to full journeys like the piano ballad "No Tellin.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this album - Jose James is still one of the best soul singers today. Included it in my best albums of the year in 2010, still listening..... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Corey C.
Fantasic a great mellow CD. Very similar to Kem, Olu, Kenny Lattimore. While yet having his own style.Published 8 months ago by Bleek
I stumbled upon this artist listening to Maysa Radio on iTunes. I looked him up on YouTube and now I'm hooked on the smoothness of his vocals, lyrics and the jazzy sounds... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Tina M. Roberson
I bought this record on the strength of the Niney/D.Brown-sampling title track and was pleasantly surprised to find a few more FLyLo produced beats alongside productions by... Read morePublished 20 months ago by T. O'Neil
Excellent vocals and sounds. I purchase another of his CD's and then bought two for friends! I can't wait till he comes out with more!Published on January 4, 2014 by BD
Jose James 3rd album is wonderful. His unique vocals move the rhythm of each songs from old formats of remixes of old & new school, lyrics are on point, and it just has such... Read morePublished on October 24, 2013 by ARW