I’ve been on the Jose James bandwagon since day 1 so let’s just say I am a bit biased when it comes to talking about one of his new releases. Ever since I bought the white label copy of “Equinox” vinyl in a London record shop in 2006, I have been saying to anyone who would listen that Jose James is one of the most exciting talents in jazz in years! Actually funny story about buying that record, it was Aaron Jerome aka SBKTRT who sold it to me.
So since 2006 a lot of amazing things have happened to Jose James but mainly one key point is that he’s proven that he has something that is very rare nowadays: staying power. The future is bright and now comes his fourth LP and first on legendary jazz label Blue Note.
“No Beginning, No End” follows “The Dreamer” (2007, Brownswood), “For All We Know” (2010, Verve/Impulse), “Black Magic” (2010, Brownswood). The expectations are high and lots of music heads are wondering in which direction he would go: staying faithful to your original fans and starting to slowly break more into mainstream recognitio can be a very hard balancing act.
The record is definitely on a more traditional Vocal Jazz approach than the previous records that had James merging his talents to a slew of different and exciting producers (Mitsu, Moodymann, etc). I would call that previous approach, the Gilles Peterson / Brownswood effect. After a couple listens I’m loving the record but also coming to realize that it really has more of a traditional vibe which might be because a label like Blue Note might be less confortable with a jazz singer covering tracks from Benga. (“Warrior”). And don’t get me wrong, traditional in this case doesn’t mean safe. The quality is very much there, in fact the “future classic” label is very pertinent here: this record will still be pure class in 50 years. How can you go wrong with an artist who is equal parts D’Angelo, Bill Withers, Gil Scott-Heron…
“No Beginning No End sums up how I feel about music right now,” says James. “I don’t want to be confined to any particular style. I decided I didn’t want to be considered a jazz singer anymore and that was really freeing. Once I realized that jazz singing is just something that I do and it’s just a label, it freed me as an artist to just write without any boundaries.”
Collaborations on “No Beginning No End” include producer/bassist Pino Palladino; pianist/composer Robert Glasper; R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist Emily King; international French-Moroccan singing star Hindi Zahra; and the 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition winner pianist Kris Bowers.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Jose James in 2010 and actually DJing as the opener to his last Montreal show. Really nice guy and so talented… I wish him all the best on the release of his new record.
It’s All Over Your Body
Sword + Gun Feat. Hindi Zahra
Come To My Door
Heaven On The Ground Feat Emily King
Do You Feel
Make It Right
Bird of Space
No Beginning No End
Come To My Door (Acoustic)
2013 U.S. TOUR DATES
Jan. 23 – Highline Ballroom – New York, NY
Jan. 24 – Howard Theatre – Washington DC
Jan. 26 – Scullers – Boston, MA
Jan. 29 – Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN
Jan. 30 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
Feb. 10-Mar. 6 – Asia & Australia Tour
Mar. 9 – The New Parish – Oakland, CA
Mar. 10 – Brick & Mortar Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
Mar. 12 – The Del Monte Speakeasy – Los Angeles, CA