José James is at the forefront in jazz’s evolution

The Artistry of… José James

Jose James’s centennial tribute album to Billie Holiday in 2015, Yesterday I Had the Blues, has been called beguiling. I like the word, and I think it says everything you need to know about the experience of hearing this musician, artist and vocalist sing. His sound is rich in its diversity and reflects the depths of Roberta Flack and Gil Scott-Heron and the contemporary spirit of J Dilla.

Jazz music is not static. It is evolving before our very ears and James is out front in the evolution, seamlessly blurring genre lines and seducing the ear as you hear blends that gently challenge traditions and preconception. James’s strongest influence is Billie Holiday; he refers to her as his musical mother. His category should be called, “What the world needs.”