Anyone who feels that the musical soundscape is overrun with stale retreds of yesterday’s hits should pick up a Jose James album immediately. Hailed as the second coming of jazz after his 2008 debut, The Dreamer, he’s since added hip hop and rock to the mix to create a totally original sonic stew.
His varied offerings have seen him collaborate with everyone from super-producer Flying Lotus to singer/songwriter Emily King and bass-playing session god Pino Palladino. Although “genre-defying” can be a lazy tag, his uncompromising vision, untouchable vocal talent, and musical integrity have made him a major creative force. Simply put, he is one of the few true artists working today.
The 37-year-old’s latest album, Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday, might be his most personal album to date. Boasting production help from the legendary Don Was, the disc allows James to pay tribute to his “musical mother,” the spark that ignited his creative fire as a child. He recently spoke to us about his sonic evolution, hard-learned lessons, and the changing rules of the industry. While many bemoan the current state of music, James insists that this is indeed the most exciting time to be an artist.
Listen closely: this guy is the real deal.