José James | The Dreamer – [Brownswood Recordings, 2008]Brooklyn based, half-Irish and half-Panamanian José James sounds like a soulful cross between Gil Scott Heron, Terry Callier and Kurt Elling. He’s definitely a jazz singer and we don’t seem to have enough of those, especially younger ones to take the form forward. He sings here as part of a basic quartet made up of him, Nori Ochiai on piano, Alexi David on bass and Steve Lyman on drums – though Luke Damrosch plays drums on “The Dreamer” and “blackeyedsusan” and Junior Mance plays piano on “Spirits Up Above“.
There’s another slight variation to the line-up (and general vibe of the album) on “Park Bench People“, where Ryan Blum takes up keyboards and Gal Ben Haim plays guitar. Blum also plays keys on the album closer, the drum & bass-inspired “Love“. Omar Abdukarim also plays trumpet albeit, on the title track only. Continue reading