MENU Jose James BLACKMAGIC LP out now!!

Jose James BLACKMAGIC LP out now!!

February 1, 2010

Writing this on the eve of the release of Jose James’s sophomore album BLACKMAGIC I am taken back to my first meeting with Jose on a beautiful autumn day in a park in New York City. We had heard just four tracks, The Dreamer (a truly incredible piece of music, the depth of which still astounds me every time I hear it), and 3 John Coltrane re-workings which unfortunately are still yet to get an official release. We really didn’t know what to expect from the man behind this voice. It seemed to belong to another era, and we wondered if the out of focus shot on his myspace page was disguising a man who was perhaps in his forties or fifties – not that it would have put us off! So I was surprised and charmed to be greeted by this young, slight and very serious man, wearing a slightly ill fitting suit, carrying a briefcase stuffed with musical scores and looking seriously in need of a few hot dinners! Coming from London he seemed almost like a character in a film, a romantic notion of what a jazz musician should be like I suppose, but at the same time just absolutely the real deal.

We are so proud of Jose and what he has achieved. The Dreamer was not an easy record to sell. It was uncompromising in its tempo, its gravitas and its cool restraint. It seemed to take a while for people to really get it, especially here in the UK. But its hard to hold a record like this down, and in the two years that have passed since its release I think it is now widely recognised for the great piece of work that it is. From a label point of view we are really proud of it, not just as a record, but the whole package – the iconic photography, the beautiful heavyweight vinyl version (with an alternative “lost” running order), and the fact that Chris Ofili felt moved to include a limited edition artwork in the first run (if you’ve got one of those hang onto it!!). It really nice to make products like this that really mean something to people.

One thing that struck us about Jose almost immediately, and one of the reasons why he was such a great fit with Brownswood was his willingness to experiment. He has always been open and willing to work with different people and get completely out of his comfort zone. Not many vocalists of this sort of seriousness and pedigree can be found covering a dubstep classic, Mc-ing for Flying lotus at Brainfeeder events, having their vocals pitched up and twisted out by Basement Jaxx, or throwing down a rap for SOIL&”PIMP”‘s ubercool trio side project J.A.M.

So go check his new album BLACKMAGIC. Its perhaps a more accessible record than The Dreamer, the fruit of Jose having travelled the world vibes-ing with Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Family and the evidence of his openness to different forms. It’s perhaps always been obvious that Jose could really connect with a much wider audience if he plundered the American songbook, and after this album, he is off to new pastures, with his 3rd album, for the legendary jazz imprint Verve. We hope that he looks back on this period of genesis and experimentation with affection, as we do, and we wish him the best of luck for his next chapter.

Emily // Brownswood Recordings Label Manager // 31/01/09

You can buy BLACKMAGIC at the Brownswood Store HERE and of course all good record shops and purveyors of digital downloads.