Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Jose James: Scala 7/7/14

Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14
Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Jose James: Scala, London 7/7/14 Brad Allen Williams (Jose James - Scala) 7/714 Samora Pinderhughes (Jose James - Scala) 7/7/14 Talia Billig (Jose James BV's): Scala 7/7/14

With "While You Were Sleeping" garnishing critical acclaim from all and sundry, it was an opportune moment to catch the man of the moment in the flesh, so to speak, at London's iconic Scala venue.

Expectations were high, and quickly realised, as Jose sauntered onto the stage and quietly slipped into the night's opener "Angel" - a greasy little number adorned with a fly funk-rock guitar riff and James's hallmark smokey vocals floating above it. A good start which whet the crowd's appetite, as did the incredibly moody "U r the 1". Enhanced sweetly by guitarist Brad Allen Williams, whose tasteful solo was clean and crisp, just the ticket for the lush groove which was going on underneath.

Strapping on a guitar himself James' wasted no time launching into the title track to his brand new aforementioned Blue Note offering, a dreamy soundscape which lends itself beautifully to the key of E minor. Again, Williams adds that certain "Je ne sais quoi" with his Prince inspired guitar solo, lush laden like liquid velvet showing us what a pearl of a track this really is.

"Four Noble Truths" is undoubtedly my fave on the album with it's distinctive three feel (and it's possible nod to Jeff Buckley) proves what a towering voice the man has. A slice of intensive ambiance even without considering James' presence casting, a brisk but not bristly sheen over buoyant structures.

"Dragon" sees background singer Talia Billig (who looks like she has just stepped out of a Vermeer painting) have her moment to shine, as she duets with the now very baritone sounding James, acquiescing ever so slightly the lilting and gentle tones of Billig's fragile eloquence.

Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" carries on the mood until "Trouble" enters the fray! A tune which gets stretched out firstly by a sublime rhodes solo, courtesy of Samora Pinderhughes, whose deft keyboard touches have things chivvying along nicely all evening. Then some some mental scat rap singing sees James go into Goldie mode! To top off some displaced beats being pounded out unmercifully by drum meister Richard Spaven. The stakes have been raised and not a minute too soon, as the laid back vibe generated throughout the night had got to be be a little too predictable.

The crunchy "Every Little Thing" kept the crowd happy too, despite
James realising he's only got 10 mins left before the curfew kicks in. Time flies when you are enjoying yourself!

To take us out on a high James changes tack and plumps for "Do You Feel", an uplifting gospel inspired and Gil Scott Heron tinged beauty - made all the more alluring with a fine bass scat solo by the unsung hero of the night, bassist Solomon Dorsey, who makes his chosen moment count-sublime stuff. James knows generosity is the key and tonight we saw the man veer breathtakingly from love to heartbreak and back again, with barely a pause.

Set list

Angel
U r the 1
While You Were Sleeping
Anywhere U Go
Bodhisattva
Four Noble Truths
Park Bench People
Dragon
Come To My Door
Trouble
EveryLittleThing
Do You Feel

PHOTOS: ARCHIBALD LEACH
Words Emrys Baird

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