José James

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José James
Josejames 2008.jpg
José James 2008
Background information
Born (1978-01-20) January 20, 1978 (age 37)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Genres Jazz, hip hop, neo soul
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, bandleader
Instruments Vocals
Labels Brownswood, Verve, Blue Note
Associated acts Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton, McCoy Tyner

José James (born January 20, 1978) is an American vocalist best known for performing and blending modern jazz and hip-hop. James performs all over the world both as a bandleader and with other groups.


Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, New York City-based vocalist José James combines jazz, soul, drum'n'bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. While he states his main influences as John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday, his sound on early 12" singles and in live performances brought to mind such icons of '70s jazz-soul as Terry Callier, and his music felt more like an update of the fluid crossover approach of Gil Scott-Heron, while also being distinctly his own.

José James attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. In 2008, he debuted with his first album, The Dreamer, on the Brownswood label.[1][2] Blackmagic followed in 2010.[2] 2010's For All We Know came out on the Impulse! label.[2][3] For All We Know became the winner of both the Edison Award[3] and L'Académie du Jazz Grand Prix for best Vocal Jazz Album of 2010.[4]

James signed to Blue Note Records in 2012 and issued "Trouble," his first single for the label, in September of that year. His fourth album, No Beginning, No End, was released in January of 2013. James began composing while on the road. New songs reflected a renewed interest in artists he listened to growing up (Nirvana, Radiohead) as well as newer ones who had made an impression (Frank Ocean, James Blake). As a result, he cut While You Were Sleeping, a collection that reflected rock alongside R&B and jazz. It was released in June of 2014.

In commemoration of the 100th birthday of Billie Holiday—a singer that he claimed from the beginning of his career as his "musical mother"—James recorded nine songs written by or associated with her. He fronted a band that included pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Eric Harland. The album, titled Yesterday I Had the Blues, was produced by Blue Note label head Don Was and was released in March of 2015.


Studio albums[edit]


  • Live at Cafe Loup (2008) (with Junior Mance)
  • Just A Maestro (2008) (with J.A.M)
  • Twelve Tones of Love (2009) (with Chico Hamilton)
  • Gimme Somethin' True (2009) (with Basement Jaxx)
  • Where R We Now (2009) (with Basement Jaxx)
  • For All We Know (2010) (with Jef Neve)
  • Just Another Mind (2010) (with J.A.M)
  • Heroes + Misfits (2012) (with Kris Bowers)
  • Circles (2013) (with Soil & "Pimp" Sessions)


  1. ^ Jose James, Jef Neve Rekindle Jazz Flame. Billboard. Retrieved on 2013-01-31.
  2. ^ a b c José James – Music Biography, Credits and Discography. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2013-01-31.
  3. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Winnaars Edison Jazz/World bekend | Edison – de oudste muziekprijs van Nederland. Retrieved on 2013-01-31.

External links[edit]