“Is José James a jazz singer or a soul singer? Old school or new school? A guardian of tradition or a seeker of thrills? Yes, yes and yes.”
– Los Angeles Times
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.”
In 2015 José made an album called “Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday” as a tribute to the legendary singer in honor of Holiday’s 100th birthday. James refers to Holiday as his “musical mother”.
This spring José James performs in Europe with his new band. At April Jazz we can expect to hear both his old music and songs from his new upcoming album “Love in a Time of Madness” (Blue Note, winter 2017). “I want to share the music with my fans first, before it becomes an album. I think it’s an amazing way to connect with people. See what moves an audience. That way, I’m only including songs on the record that are proven to inspire people. It’s tremendously rewarding to share my music like this, and this way my fans help me to create the album.”