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Blackmagic (Digi) Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 2 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Brownswood
  • ASIN: B002N4PAXI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa6999d50) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa690c210) out of 5 stars A welcome return Jan. 27 2010
By Jetrocket - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have been living with "Black Magic" for the last two weeks and for me the challenge was letting go of my attachment to "the Dreamer" and letting "Black Magic" introduce itself to me on its own terms. In many ways "the Dreamer" is a hard act to follow - it is a nearly flawless debut carefully crafted to be a timeless classic. The challenge with "Black Magic" is that it is concerned with the "now' enlisting cutting edge producers and collaborators from the global dance underground like Moodymann, Flying Lotus, DJ Mitsu the Beats, and Benga to give an identity to the project. Such a strategy begs the question of whether or not it will hold up in the coming years or become dated. IMHO I don't see this happening because underpinning the project is a dedication to high aesthetics and a reinforcement of the qualities that initially attracted me to Mr. James' music - there's quality writing, musicianship and production all on offer here. The album is sophisticated but still retains the hazy-lazy flow of "the Dreamer" . You can put on "Black Magic" and just go where it leads. Repeated listening reveals the depths embedded in each track, each listen makes clearer the cohesion of the whole project. Highlights abound - Promises in Love, Code, Black Magic, Love Conversation, Save your Love for me, Made for Love, and more. Overall, a smart update of Mr. James' approach and sound; one that I am glad to be around to hear. I hope there's a vinyl edition. Highly recommended.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa690c840) out of 5 stars A truly distinctive,enjoyable offering. Feb. 21 2010
By Jazz for the dappers - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is second album from José James, whose brilliantly expressive voice has graced recent releases from Nicola Conte (Rituals) and Timo Lassy(Round Two).
Brooklyn-based, Panamanian/Irish 20-something James honed his jazz chops by scatting along to Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong between rapping to hip hop albums and writing lyrics to tracks by Coltrane.
He took a pretty direct route to getting DJ/zeitgeist monitor Gilles Peterson's attention. He flew over to London, went out clubbing and slipped the hugely influential DJ and prescient A&R man a copy of his demos.
Intrigued by the hip young singer's attitude and by his subtle baritone smokey, dusky vocals, Gilles Peterson took a listen and - blown away by his stunning vocal version of Trane's classic tune "Equinox" - immediately signed him to his thriving young indie label Brownswood.
Thus he bursts on to the scene, jazz guns blazing, blasting away the likes of Michael Bublé and Jamie Cullum and proving himself the sort of singer jazz lovers have been crying out for.
The album takes a couple of plays to really appreciate and is more soul oriented than his debut "The Dreamer".
"Promise In Love" and "Greater Good" are nice soulful mid tempos with horn backing.
"Lay You Down' has a D'Angelo feel to it, and "Save Your Love For Me" is a nice beat ballad.
The more acoustic jazzier "Touch" has great keyboards and "Warrior" is heavier jazz.
All in all, this is strong album from one of jazzs hippest young performers on the market : for jazz fans or romantics, there's plenty to admire and whether it makes you want to catch James live, or put the CD on at dinner parties for some soothing, unobtrusive backing,there's a goldmine to be tapped.
The Dreamer
Call Me Irresponsible
The Pursuit [CD / DVD] [Deluxe Edition]
East Of Angel Town
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa690cd14) out of 5 stars Already A Favorite of The Year Feb. 28 2010
By J. Johnson - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I became a huge fan of Jose James after listening to his 2008 debut, The Dreamer. James first struck my interest after I first read an article about him in Downbeat magazine. He seemed like the type of young modern jazz artist I had been waiting to hear: a young versatile, open-minded cat who respected the legends that came before him while bringing a fresh b-boy flair. After listening to The Dreamer, I saw that I was right in my pre-assessment of James.

I am more than happy to say that James topped himself with his sophomore release, Blackmagic.

It's entirely unfair (and incorrect) to categorize Blackmagic as a straight jazz album. Blacksmagic defies categorization. James recalls legends like Gil Scott Heron, Terry Callier and Jon Lucien in that he comes from an angle that's both jazzy at its core AND conventionally soulful all while creating a lushly unique vibe that is all his own.

The brilliant Flying Lotus, DJ Mistsu the Beats, Taylor McFerrin (son of Bobby) and Moodyman all contribute production, helping to further defy categorization. FL's three contributions (Code, the standout Made for Love and the title track), in particular, all arrive at a perfect meeting point that merge his trademark celestialness with James' wistful old-soul groove.

All thirteen of Blackmagic's tracks (as well as the slow burning 10-minute jazz vocal piece "The Light" that rounds out the album as a bonus track) radiate with so much soul, feeling and creativity.

This album is proof that good music is still being made and released. You just won't hear it on the radio! I'm not sure if Blackmagic is slated for a US release or not since James has recently signed a deal with Verve Records to record and release a traditional jazz record entitled "For All We Know", yet it is an album (like The Dreamer) that is more than heavily recommended. It is worth tracking down as an import, no matter how pricy that option may be.

A definite favorite of 2010 (yes, already!). Much respect to Gilles Peterson for believing in and nurturing this brilliant young artist's talent.
HASH(0xa690f0f0) out of 5 stars " BLACKMAGIC " Aug. 18 2014
By David White - Published on
His voice is from another age and time. With the self-assured swagger of Frank Sinatra, Jose James' casual, effortless glide through song is something so rare in contemporary jazz that it cannot help but stand out. On BlackMagic, his second release on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recording indie label, James dims the hip hop and spoken word influences of his earlier The Dreamer to conjure jazz and soul more sinewy and mystical. The Panamanian and Irish Brooklynite (by way of Minneapolis, MN) does more than wrap his beckoning baritone around a lyric like no other; the pocket nester stretches across genres on BlackMagic to tackle a rare jazz standard, radio R&B, drum n' bass, and ambient progressive soul tailor-made for martini lounges the world over. The results are nothing less than sublime, with James' birthing one of the first complete albums of the year.

James' simplicity often invites comparisons to Jon Lucien and Terry Callier. But, for me, Lucien's rarely been as consistently engaging as James, and Callier, while closer, embraces a folksiness that the urbane James has yet to demonstrate. On cuts like "Beauty," the old guard of Black jazz crooners like Arthur Prysock and Johnny Hartman, with their husky, yet opal smooth baritones are better fits, fathers of Jose James iconoclastic image and ever enriching singing style (if any of those guys could also exhibit a rapper's flow, I'd call for DNA testing). James' melting vocals have matured from his youthful hug of rap cadences to those of a legitimate, traditional balladeer, with only a couple of exceptions like "Code." Instead of freestyles, the singer unveils new range and movement on soft to full journeys like the piano ballad "No Tellin."

What is even more of a departure from The Dreamer than the reduction of hip hop and spoken word influenced material is the number of commercial, radio ready jams that people BlackMagic. Moreover, James expresses a diversity that takes the radio tracks from the bedroom to the dance floor. The light refrain of "lay you down and pick you up and lay you down and..." juxtaposed against the witnessing horns and back funk bassline on the verses of "Lay You Down" is sexier than the entire R Kelly catalog. Musically personifying its title, "Love Conversation," James and Jordana de Lovely's adventurous duet (I couldn't make up her name if I tried) added so many ingenious harmonic and complementary elements of partner interplay throughout the song that the percussive composition itself becomes the living, breathing embodiment of sexual foreplay. The stepper's delight of "Promise In Love" and the rhythmic neo-soul kiss of "Detroit Loveletter" takes you back to the soulful '70s and '80s smooth jazz of Grover Washington Jr., Roy Ayers, and Bobby Caldwell. The refreshing hip hop bassline of Nancy Wilson's classic "Save Your Love For Me" thoroughly updates the standard, modernizing it so much that even Joe Cool can be found head bobbing on his red dog house.

Named one of the "21 Best Jazz Albums of 2008" by JazzTimes, Jose James' mostly self-penned Dreamer announced a rarity: the return of a male jazz singer in a field where bald eagles are more plentiful. Still, James seemed not to fully step into the role of jazz singer, like say Kevin Mahogany. Instead, he took oat-sowing forays with dance and electronica nu-pioneers like Flying Lotus (also making a production appearance on BlackMagic along with Producer Moodymann), Basement Jaxx, and Junior Mance, experimenting as a young man should. Now, with his recent twin contributions to hard bop jazz man Timo Lassy's classic Round Two and Jazzanova's Of All The Things, James steps more fully into his role as the next generation of jazz, if with a hybrid twist. Through BlackMagic, James takes one step further down that path with enormous promise and what may be one of the most memorable albums of 2010. It will be interesting to see what his new home, the legendary jazz label, Verve, will do with him as their latest prodigy. If BlackMagic is any indication, this warlock will have us spellbound for decades to come.
HASH(0xa690cc90) out of 5 stars Music To Be Laid Down & Lifted Up To Jan. 1 2011
By SF Girl - Published on
Verified Purchase
It's rare these days that an album measures up to the one or two singles that draw you in. "Black Magic" is a notable body of work, with superb production. It would have been easy to rely upon the merits of Jose James' velvety voice to carry the album, but thankfully the musicianship and the music, writing/lyrics and timing stand up as well. Loved the duets with the female vocalist. "Black Magic" is worthy of the praise it's received in the UK & US among jazz, downtempo and r&b listeners (and beyond!). It's fantastic that legendary ear Giles Peterson (Brownswood) picked this up. Cuts to swoon to: "Code" - reminiscent of early Cassandra Wilson or Roberta Flack, "Lay You Down" lifts you as only a song about the realest kind of love can, and "Detroit Loveletter" is a masterful blend of percussion, mixing and Jose James' skilled weaving of vocal timing. There's something about this album that reminds me of Gil Scott and Shuggie Otis... Too bad he's getting labeled as a jazz musician. Black Magic is a perfect example of why one genre simply doesn't describe or fit here. I'm eagerly awaiting what comes next for Jose James.

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