Tuesday 19th May 2015
£25.00 - £42.50
Since the beginning, Minneapolis native José James has always drawn from disparate musical influences. “Growing up, it seemed like there was a new groundbreaking album coming out every month. It was such an exciting time to be a fan of music. I can remember waiting for 10,000 Maniacs or Ice Cube to come out with a new album. That really stoked my creativity.”
José set his sights on New York City – the ultimate metropolitan utopia where iron sharpens iron in various disciplines – and entered the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Conspiring with classmates and flourishing under the tutelage of jazz luminaries, he found himself in a rich fabric of diverse musical contemporaries. He remembers, “I just started putting all this stuff together. For me, it was never about whether it was jazz or hip-hop. It was all about creative people who just had different sounds.”
An EP of José’s first recordings ended up in the hands of influential BBC Radio disc jockey Gilles Peterson. Thoroughly impressed, Peterson enlisted José to join the roster of his label Brownswood Recordings and released his 2008 debut The Dreamer – a captivating mixture of jazz tradition and modern flair – and 2010’s forward-thinking opus Blackmagic – a bold foray beyond tradition, synthesizing his jazz sensibilities with an ardent hip-hop moxie at the hands of beatsmiths like the esteemed Flying Lotus. Blackmagic successfully broadened his reach beyond jazz, garnering high praise from respected media outlets traditionally reserved for hip-hop and soul such as Okayplayer and Wax Poetics.
After extensive touring and experimentation with new ideas, James joined the Blue Note roster in 2013 when he released his breakout album No Beginning No End to wide acclaim. With its irrepressible lead single “Trouble,” the album release found José making national TV appearances on Conan, Late Show With David Letterman, and Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
The New York Times praised his “cool and confident” album, adding that it “sounds like the result of the black-pop continuum, jazz and soul and hip-hop and R&B, slow-cooked for more than 50 years.” NPR Music raved that “James makes utterly contemporary music,” noting that he “skirts categories with ease, fitting in with current R&B innovators like Frank Ocean or Miguel, yet maintaining a strong awareness of a lineage that stretches from Ray Charles to Marvin Gaye to Lou Rawls to Maxwell.”
In their album review Pitchfork noted that “While he’s always been one to try stuff out, on No Beginning No End he finds a way to make an eclectic approach feel unified and whole. With previous releases, he’s earned his heroic acclaim in the tough, tried-and-trusted lanes of contemporary jazz. With No Beginning No End, he’s built his own road out.”
If anything can be said about José James, aside from marveling at his impressive talent and incomparable voice, it’s that he is indeed a fearless artist. His experimental rock-edged 2014 album While You Were Sleeping exemplified that fearlessness. “Catch up with José James now because he’s a rarity – an artist evolving at warp speed,” raved NPR All Things Considered. The New York Times wrote that “While You Were Sleeping is a leap forward, brilliant precisely for its blurriness of style.”
José’s new album Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday is a tribute to the legendary singer in honor of Holiday’s 100th birthday. James celebrates the woman he refers to as his “musical mother” with this stunning set of 9 songs written or popularized by Holiday. The album, which was produced by Blue Note president Don Was, features a stellar band including pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Eric Harland.
support: Polly Gibbons QuartetTonight! Polly Gibbons Quartet featuring Polly Gibons (vocals/0,James pearson (piano), Tim Thornton (double bass), Chris Draper (drums)
Polly Gibbons is one of the most respected and talked about young singer/songwriters of her generation. Nominated for a BBC Jazz Award back in 2006 with no album release to her name, was clear indication of just how special a singer and performer Polly is. Much esteemed by her contemporaries, Polly has built a reputation as being an original and gifted voice. With warm, rich, soulful vocals and an innate blues sensibility, Polly has been likened to many of the jazz and soul greats bringing her own storytelling and earnest depth alongside unique humour and fun to performances. Having developed her craft over the past decade, Polly has performed at all the leading UK jazz clubs, international festivals and is a regular at Ronnie Scott’s performing with the All Stars.
My Own Company, her debut UK jazz album with James Pearson, pianist and Musical Director of Ronnie Scott’s, was released to critical acclaim in August 2014 – long overdue, yet not before time, with Polly sounding more beautiful and rarer than ever. The album features original material including Midnight Prayer, co-penned with James Pearson, which won the Indie International Song Writing Competition 2014.
Polly signed to acclaimed US jazz label Resonance Records at the beginning of 2014, and soon after recorded the album ‘Many Faces Of Love’ in Los Angeles with founder and producer George Klabin. Having completed a highly successful preliminary autumn tour in Florida, New York, Boston and Minneapolis, the album is due for global release on 4th February 2015.
Polly’s influences are brilliant, broad and inspired ~ from the poetry of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, to the be-bop of Charlie Parker, the deep wails of Mahalia Jackson’s gospel, to the emotional depth of Donny Hathaway, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone; the soul of Marvin Gaye, the blues of Buddy Guy and more contemporary brilliance in the sounds of Prince and D’Angelo.
Tell us what you think of JOSE JAMES: Yesterday I Had The Blues (The Music Of Billie Holiday), support: Polly Gibbons Quartet below..