Pianist and composer James Francies will release his eagerly awaited sophomore album Purest Form this month.
Francies released his debut album Flight with Blue Note in 2018. Named by Brad Barker as one of the best albums of the year, it signalled Francies’ arrival on the jazz scene as a highly talented and visionary composer and bandleader.
Since then, Francies has worked with collaborators across the stylistic spectrum, including Pat Metheny, Childish Gambino, Mark Ronson, The Roots, Chris Potter, Common, Marcus Miller and Lauryn Hill. Those projects have helped to enhance his development and refine his sound.
Continuing with Blue Note for his second album, Francies accesses “intimate chambers of his artistry” across 14 tracks, dipping into feelings of love, grief, frailty and fortitude.
“Music, in its purest form, is an honest space we’re trying to get to where there are no preconceived ideas of what we think something should sound like,” Francies says. “When you really tap into who you are on the inside, musically and as a person, that energy supersedes anything else.”
Purest Form was recorded with Francies’ core trio of bassist Burniss Travis and drummer Jeremy Dutton. The three Houston-raised artists have been playing together for more than a decade. The album also features alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, vibraphonist Joel Ross, guitarist Mike Moreno and vocalists Elliott Skinner, Peyton and Bilal.
“I hope that what I was trying to go for — an immersive, multidimensional experience — really reaches people,” Francies continues. “I hope that for 56 minutes, they step into this world of sounds and textures. That’s the idea. And [laughs] I hope it sounds good on every speaker.”
Purest Form arrives May 21 via Blue Note.
For now, you can listen to lead singles 713, a tribute to his hometown, and Rose Water, an evocative track featuring vocalist Elliott Skinner.