"A labor of love" is how José James describes his release For All We Know, his first American release and his first for the Impulse! label. A collaboration between James and noted Belgian pianist Jef Neve, the album finds the charismatic young singer applying his warm, rich baritone to a sterling assortment of jazz and pop standards, including such timeless favorites as "Tenderly," "Body and Soul," Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and George and Ira Gershwin's "Embraceable You."
Although For All We Know is José James' introduction to American listeners, the Minneapolis-born, London-based vocalist is already a star in Britain, Europe and Japan, thanks to his first two albums The Dreamer and Blackmagic, released on influential DJ/producer Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings label.
All but one of For All We Know's songs was recorded in one informal six-hour session at Galaxy Studios in Mol, Belgium, with no producer, no overdubs and no retakes. 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. The two were so inspired by their instant musical rapport that they hastily booked a studio in order to capture their budding chemistry on tape.
"We just played the songs we love the way we felt them, with no constraints," James explains, adding, "Playing as a duo is very pure and honest; it's just you, the piano and silence."
While For All We Know presents José James as a masterful vocal interpreter, the artist's resume encompasses an impressive variety of musical experiences. The son of a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist father, José first began steeping himself in jazz history and technique as a teenager, and began performing in public at the age of 17. After moving to New York to attend the New School's prestigious jazz program, he studied with instrumental legends Junior Mance and Chico Hamilton, both of whom subsequently invited James to perform on their recordings.
A meeting in London with Gilles Peterson resulted in a deal with Brownswood Recordings and led to the release of James' first two mostly self-penned albums, which 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 collaborations 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.
Having already won the hearts of international audiences, José James is enthusiastic about 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."
Buy the album from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/d8bZtw