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Jose James - The Dreamer
Coming to us from New York via London, Jose James is the latest artist to be given a career boost by influential disc jockey-turned-label-owner Gilles Peterson.  After being introduced to James' music, Peterson signed him to his Brownswood label, releasing the early single "The Dreamer," and we are now treated to the full-length.

Continuing in the mode established by the single, James takes us on a deep jazz journey that is one of the most refreshing debuts in years.  With a voice that recalls Jon Lucien or Gil Scott-Heron, James follows in the best jazz tradition, yet marks his own territory as an artist unafraid to incorporate elements of hip hop.  This is best reflected in his superlative cover of "Park Bench People," the Freestyle Fellowship classic.  He also performs remakes of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's forgotten "Spirits Up Above" and "Nola" from the She's Gotta Have It soundtrack.   

Elsewhere, James proves to be a capable writer in his own right. Tunes such as "Winter Wind" and "Blackeyedsusan" are strong numbers that may well end up as standards themselves.  Throughout, James is supported by an excellent band that includes Steve Lyman on drums, bassist Alexi David, and Nori Ochiai on piano. Expect to hear more from them in the future.

The Dreamer is strongly recommended as a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stagnant jazz scene and heralds the beginning of great things to come from Jose James.

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