COMPOSERS: José James
PERFORMER: José James (vocals), Nori Ochiai,Junior Mance, Ryan Blum (keyboards), Alexi David (bass), Steve Lyman, Luke Damrosch (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: Brownswood BWOOD026CD
There are more female jazz vocalists than you can shake a stick at, but the male market is less populous.The few men that do get heard err on the commercial side, looking for the chatshow, crossover audience.
Thank goodness for José James, the Minneapolis homeboy who got hip to Monk and Mingus. Finished off at New York’s New School For Jazz & Contemporary Music, James has an updated bebop jazz sound, swinging his lines just like a horn player would.
Some might hear the smokey bar room swagger of bebop singer Babs Gonzales in his style; I was reminded of a young Gil Scott-Heron: but James is less rough edged than the former and less cynical than the latter.
Tender, even a little bruised, James’s original songs dream so vividly of love and loss that you don’t want him to wake up.