José James - The Dreamer

You can imagine José James cursing the global trend towards smoking bans. It's hard to envisage these songs being played in anything other than a densely smokey club.

The Dreamer harks back to classic vocal jazz. Don't expect any Mark Ronson-style updating; this feels authentic. James (half Panamanian-half Irish) has an undoubtedly fine, sometimes slightly feminine voice. Around him, proper jazz drums crash and the piano (partly by Junior Mance, who has performed with the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie) is allowed to take flight.

If the press release hadn't mentioned which three of these songs are covers, I wouldn't have been able to guess. Still, while The Dreamer may sound a little unvaried and leisurely to the casual listener, soul and jazz connoisseur Gilles Peterson has given the thumbs up; this debut is released on his record label.

Overall

6

out of 10

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