"This record is all about capturing the moment," José James
says of For All We Know, his upcoming Impulse! release. The
album, a collaboration between James and noted Belgian pianist Jef
Neve, finds the charismatic young vocalist applying his warm, rich
baritone to a sterling assortment of timeless jazz and pop standards.
The result is an eloquently spare, effortlessly expressive set, with
James' vivid performances and the intimate duo format lending new
emotional depth to such beloved classics as "Tenderly," "Body and
Soul," "Everyday I Have the Blues," Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and
George and Ira Gershwin's "Embraceable You."
For All We Know is José James' first album for Impulse!
Records, as well as his first U.S. release. But the Minneapolis-born,
London-based singer is already a sensation in Britain, Europe and
Japan. Since his arrival on the international scene in 2008,
audiences and critics alike have embraced the artist's talent and
versatility, with his first two albums (released on influential
DJ/producer Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings label)
winning James a reputation as both a rising star and a vital new
All but one of For All We Know's ten songs were recorded in a
single informal six-hour session at Galaxy Studios in Mol, Belgium.
The project came together spontaneously, after James and Neve
performed together on a Belgian television show and Neve filled in for
James' regular pianist at a concert in Brussels.
"It felt like we'd been playing together forever," José recalls. "I
had the next day off, so I said 'Let's go in the studio and try to capture
some of this vibe.' Jef booked this really nice studio, we let the tape
roll, and that's the album. There was no producer, no overdubs, and
most of the songs were first takes.
"It wasn't anything that we thought was gonna turn into a big
release," he continues. "It was just something that we thought was
really cool. We just played the songs we love the way we felt them,
with no constraints. Playing as a duo is very pure and honest; it's just
you, the piano and silence."
As impressive as For All We Know is, it presents just one
aspect of José James' musical portfolio, whose expansiveness and
diversity belies the artist's tender age. The son of a jazz-
saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist father from Panama, José first
embraced jazz in his early teens. By the age of 17, he had emerged
as both a budding performer and a serious student of jazz history and
technique, performing around Minneapolis in a variety of lineups with
an assortment of seasoned local jazz players.
"I realized early on that I could connect with people through
music," José recalls. "I wasn't thinking much about making it into a
career; I was just caught up in the excitement of making music. I also
realized that the vocal developments in jazz progressed with the
instrumental developments, and that the instrumentalists' rhythmic
and harmonic sophistication was absorbed and transmuted by the
singers of the day. That really opened my eyes, and helped to give
me a direction and a focus."
José's musical development continued after a move to New
York, where he attended the New School's prestigious jazz program,
studying with instrumental legends Junior Mance and Chico Hamilton,
both of whom subsequently invited him to perform on their
In 2006, while participating in a vocal competition in London,
José met Gilles Peterson, who was sufficiently impressed with his
talents to sign him to Brownswood Recordings. He released a pair of
acclaimed, mostly self-written albums for the label, The Dreamer and
Blackmagic. In addition to showcasing the artist's vocal and
songwriting gifts, those albums combined his deep-rooted jazz
sensibility with elements of classic soul, contemporary R&B, hip-hop
and drum 'n' bass.
James' growing notoriety led to him collaborating on record with
a wide assortment of jazz, club and hip-hop acts, including Basement
Jaxx, Nicola Conte, Toshio Matsuura, Jazzanova, Flying Lotus,
Christian McBride, Elan Mehler, the Heritage Orchestra, Robert
Mitchell, Jazzy Sport and Simbad. He also established a reputation
as a magnetic live performer, appearing at such hallowed venues as
London's Royal Festival Hall, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Vitoria
Jazz Festival, Billboard Live in Tokyo, Centro Cultural in Sao Paolo,
the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and Central Park Summerstage in
Like José, pianist Jef Neve has quickly established himself as
one of jazz's most exciting young talents. Already an established
figure in his homeland of Belgium and a rising star in the rest of the
world, he's released five best-selling albums on Universal Belgium
,that have won international acclaim. The Jef Neve Trio has
performed throughout Europe, including appearances at many of the
world's most prestigious jazz festivals. In 2009, Neve debuted his
first piano concerto, with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, and
won additional notoriety for his musical score for director Felix Van
Groeningen's film The Misfortunates.
Having already won the hearts of international audiences, José
James is inspired by the opportunity to make a splash in his home
country. "It's so exciting, and it's a huge honor to be on Impulse; it's
Trane's house. I'm very proud of this record, and I love being able to
give back to the music that nurtured me."
With a background that encompasses all manner of diverse
musical pursuits, José James sees the potential for many different
kinds of records in his future.
"I've never wanted to stay in one place," he states. "Jazz has
always been about looking forward and experimenting and trying new
things. If For All We Know has an influence on my direction in the
future, it's to make me more open to taking chances and seeing
where the moment takes you. That's what this record was about for
me, and that's what I want to keep doing."
Official Website: http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/jazzclub/artist/show/1281
Added by Yoshis on May 1, 2010