Saturday, August 7, 2010


If you haven't heard of José James, we're off to a great start.  His recent rise in fame is owed much in part to British über-DJ extraordinaire Gilles Peterson, a man responsible for launching many musicians' careers over the years, and who has an inherent knack for seeking out the freshest voices and sounds in music.  Gilles met José James in 2006 in London, and in 2008 James was signed to his Brownswood Recordings label and released his first record, "The Dreamer."  Two years later, after strong positive reception by critics for his debut, James is back with his sophomore release, "Blackmagic."
First and foremost, the secret weapon behind everything James touches is his amazing vocal chops.  I can truly say I haven't heard such an incredibly gifted male singer as this since I became exposed to Kurt Elling in the 1990's.  He has absolute control over his instrument, pitch perfect and controlled with the skill of a virtuoso horn player.  "Blackmagic" has a broad appeal that will not only scoop up fans of Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music for the ride, but is sure to snatch up new fans from all over the musical map.  Mr. James has an extensive background in jazz singing, but don't let this fool you.  This is some of the freshest music I've heard in years; enough variety to make the entire disc enjoyable, and you won't find yourself skipping tracks while listening.  This record has been in my collection now for six months, and it continues to thrill my ears today as much as it did in February, if not more.
Do yourself a musical service and listen to samples of "Blackmagic" on the internet:  When you fall under the Blackmagic spell, you'll know it's time to head out to your local independent record store and snag a copy of your own.


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