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Lean On Me

Since bursting onto the international scene a little over a decade ago, José James and his honey-sweet voice are still as bewitching. The Minneapolis artist admits to being inspired by Marvin Gaye, the producer Flying Lotus and John Coltrane for his stylish blend of what makes up Great Black Music. Flitting between raw soul, soul folk, hip hop and jazz, James is in the microcosm of vocalists capable of keeping the crossover created by Ray Charles in the 50s alive. His first album (The Dreamer, 2008) pays tribute to Martin Luther King. The next one, Blackmagic, features the beatboxer Taylor McFerrin. His fourth album (in the meantime he recorded with Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton, Flying Lotus and the pianist Jef Neve), No Beginning No End, is on Blue Note. The more soulful than ever singer is back with Lean On Me (2018). After leaning on Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, this time he pays tribute to the living legend of American pop and the immense soulman Bill Withers. There are twelve unforgettable tracks by Withers, who celebrates his 80th birthday in July, produced by Don Was and recorded by a dream band: bassist Pino Palladino, Kris Bowers (fabulous Rhodes on the cover of Ain’t No Sunshine), Brad Allen Williams and Nate Smith.

Line-up : José James (v, g), Marcus Machado (g), Aneesa Strings (b, v), Aaron Steele (dms)

Crédit photo : © J. Beckman