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Black Magic Import

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, October 30, 2015
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Editorial Reviews

Reissue of this 2010 album from the acclaimed vocalist. Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, New York City-based vocalist José James combines jazz, soul, drum'n'bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. While he states his main influences as John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday, his sound on early 12" singles and in live performances brought to mind such icons of '70s jazz-soul as Terry Callier, and his music felt more like an update of the fluid crossover approach of Gil Scott-Heron, while also being distinctly his own.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Code
  2. Touch
  3. Lay You Down
  4. Promise in Love
  5. Warrior
  6. Made for Love
  7. Save Your Love for Me
  8. The Greater Good
  9. Blackmagic
  10. Detroit Loveletter
  11. Love Conversation
  12. Beauty
  13. No Tellin' (I Need You)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 30, 2015)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Brownswood
  • ASIN: B002N4PAXI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,524 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I have been living with "Black Magic" for the last two weeks and for me the challenge was letting go of my attachment to "the Dreamer" and letting "Black Magic" introduce itself to me on its own terms. In many ways "the Dreamer" is a hard act to follow - it is a nearly flawless debut carefully crafted to be a timeless classic. The challenge with "Black Magic" is that it is concerned with the "now' enlisting cutting edge producers and collaborators from the global dance underground like Moodymann, Flying Lotus, DJ Mitsu the Beats, and Benga to give an identity to the project. Such a strategy begs the question of whether or not it will hold up in the coming years or become dated. IMHO I don't see this happening because underpinning the project is a dedication to high aesthetics and a reinforcement of the qualities that initially attracted me to Mr. James' music - there's quality writing, musicianship and production all on offer here. The album is sophisticated but still retains the hazy-lazy flow of "the Dreamer" . You can put on "Black Magic" and just go where it leads. Repeated listening reveals the depths embedded in each track, each listen makes clearer the cohesion of the whole project. Highlights abound - Promises in Love, Code, Black Magic, Love Conversation, Save your Love for me, Made for Love, and more. Overall, a smart update of Mr. James' approach and sound; one that I am glad to be around to hear. I hope there's a vinyl edition. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
This is second album from José James, whose brilliantly expressive voice has graced recent releases from Nicola Conte (Rituals) and Timo Lassy(Round Two).
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I became a huge fan of Jose James after listening to his 2008 debut, The Dreamer. James first struck my interest after I first read an article about him in Downbeat magazine. He seemed like the type of young modern jazz artist I had been waiting to hear: a young versatile, open-minded cat who respected the legends that came before him while bringing a fresh b-boy flair. After listening to The Dreamer, I saw that I was right in my pre-assessment of James.

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!
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Format: MP3 Music
His voice is from another age and time. With the self-assured swagger of Frank Sinatra, Jose James' casual, effortless glide through song is something so rare in contemporary jazz that it cannot help but stand out. On BlackMagic, his second release on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recording indie label, James dims the hip hop and spoken word influences of his earlier The Dreamer to conjure jazz and soul more sinewy and mystical. The Panamanian and Irish Brooklynite (by way of Minneapolis, MN) does more than wrap his beckoning baritone around a lyric like no other; the pocket nester stretches across genres on BlackMagic to tackle a rare jazz standard, radio R&B, drum n' bass, and ambient progressive soul tailor-made for martini lounges the world over. The results are nothing less than sublime, with James' birthing one of the first complete albums of the year.

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.
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