Review: Jose James at Hiro Ballroom, NYC

DSC05825, originally uploaded by Giant Step.

To many, the name Jose James is what music should be. Jazzy, soulful, with hints of left field sensibilities. In fact, the very mention of the word “left-field,” by the host of Saturday nights Hiro Ballroom show garnered a round of applause.

To a majority of Americans, Jose James is not a household name. Unfortunately, his signing to Gilles Pertson’s UK-based Brownswood Recordings has stifled his progression in this country because of their lack of a US distributor.

However, armed with a new deal on Universal Music, the Minneapolis born, NYC living James is set to try and take America by storm.

Those who are familiar with James’ earlier work might have noticed that he’s changed up his sound rather slightly. His newest LP, Black Magic finds him going more into R&B and soul territory with some calling it his most “accessible” album yet. On stage, however, its demonstrated that Jose is not yet comfortable with being a soul crooner. His uneasiness with songs like”Lay You Down” were slightly noticeable. However, Jose and the and singing partner Jordana De Lovely held it down on their beautiful rendition of “Love Conversation”.

When it comes to his trademark jazz roots, Jose is as comfortable as sliding into some nice silk slippers. His rendition of the Billy Strayhorn’s jazz standard “Lush Life,” was downright incredible and his 10 minute rendition of the superior track “Park Bench People,” shows us why he’s one of jazz’s young greats.All in all, the early show was a great start to a Saturday night. The chill vibes of the evening matched the unseasonably cold temperatures outside. The slight lines in New York’s stellar Hiro Ballroom created an intimate vibe which most other venues would fail to provide. And as Jose James travels more and more in the States, hopefully more Americans will be exposed to this young talent.

Jose James – Code at Hiro Ballroom (video by deebeezy)

Jose James – Park Bench People at Hiro Ballroom (video by deebeezy)