Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: Blue Note
Genre(s): R&B, Adult Contemporary R&B, Contemporary R&B
Modern jazz fans have a right to feel possessive about the singer José James. In the last decade, he's been one of the suavest vocal improvisers on the scene. His 2015 album devoted to songs made popular by Billie Holiday, Yesterday I Had the Blues, sounded to me like the most soulful tribute to come out during Lady Day's centennial. Steeped as he is in jazz, James has also shown a restlessness with strict genre categorization.
As he went into making his fourth Blue Note release, José James envisioned the follow-up to the Billie Holiday tribute Yesterday I Had the Blues as a double album. It was going to be split between love songs and outward-looking material inspired by persistent injustices and increasingly visible and frequent attacks upon persons of color in the U.S. At some point, James scrapped the second half of the concept, too distressed to see it through.
A weekly roundup of must-hear music from The Times' music staff. This week's picks include the latest from beloved, funk-leaning local star Thundercat, as well as works from Ella Mai, José James and Guy Clark. Thundercat, "Drunk" (Brainfeeder) Although the artist's primary instrument is the electric bass, he's not the kind to rely on your standard four-string variety.