José James – blackeyedsusan

José James is the latest in a long line of amazing artists discovered by Gilles Peterson. His debut album is out at the end of the month, and the beautiful jazz of blackeyedsusan should keep you happy till then…

José James at The Worldwide Festival, Sete

Since Gilles Peterson launched his Brownswood Recordings label last year I’ve discovered a whole host of excellent artists, many of them through the excellent Brownswood Bubblers compilations; Ben Westbeech, Iman &, of most relevance to this post, José James. He is, in many ways, the most conventional of the artists to be featured on the Bubblers series, but his work is no less amazing for that fact.

James is based in New York and continues the long line of amazing jazz singers to have emerged from the Big Apple (even if he hails from Minneapolis). On the 1st Bubblers album his track The Dreamer stood out; a 7 minute hymn to the late, great Martin Luther King, it was built on little more than a very smoky trumpet line, the most delicate of piano & drums and James’ own voice, which could best be easily be described as the vocal equivalent of velvet. Or at least of the cocktail black velvet. The limited release of his cover of John Coltrane’s Equinox only backed up this impression.

His debut album (also called The Dreamer) is out at the end of this month and to whet our appetites till then Brownswood have released the very excellent blackeyedsusan. The track just oozes wit & charm, with José’s laid-back vocals the perfect foil for the interplay between the piano & percussion. As he whispers “Baby come on slide next to me“, you can’t help wondering why people stopped making music this perfect. I mean rock & roll’s great & everything, but this is positively transcendental.

Buy Brownswood Bubblers. Buy Equinox (if you still can). Buy blackeyedsusan. Shit, you should even buy the limited release of Spirits Up Above. And then, on the 28th of Januray, you should buy The Dreamer album so that we can all spread the magic that is José James.


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