Review of Jose James' album Blackmagic released through Browswood Recordings
It is as yet to be ascertained as to whether he has been to LA, Chicago or even been south to Key Largo. What is undeniable however is that he is indeed, by any definition, a 'Smooth Operator'. Mr Jose James, a Minneapolis born, resident of Brooklyn, and an artist signed to Gilles Peterson's British label, Brownswood Recordings, offers up his second album 'Blackmagic'. This is Jose's follow up to the critically acclaimed, jazz infused, 2008 'The Dreamer'.
Jose James music is a blend of Soul, Jazz, Hip-Hop and Experimental, although for the most part during 'Blackmagic' the emphasis is clearly on the more soulful, quieter, evocative and extremely laid back variety. His rich baritone voice, said to be "reminiscent of Terry Callier and Gil-Scott Heron", couldn't be more opulent, velvety or warm and fluid if it were a Creme Egg in a drink. Some of his influences are clearly evident on the new album, Marvin Gaye's seemingly effortless and sumptuous vocal style, and Billie Holiday's emotion and delivery in particular. Jean-Michel Basquiat's influence, himself once a member of a band, but more renowned for his art, is not as easy to identify, with the one possible exception of 'Warrior'.
Continue reading: Jose James, Blackmagic Album Review