Hometown talent José James returns to the Cedar


José James and Kris Bowers return to the Cedar Cultural Center on Monday, April 21. Consider this an invitation to enjoy more new music from two young and gifted musicians with new albums.


But this is not just a fantastic reintroduction of two talented artists. It’s a fantastic way to explore music from two men who are potentially on their way to becoming huge influential musicians in the future.



José James Photos courtesy of Blue Note Records
José James
Photos courtesy of Blue Note Records


In January 2013, James played an album-release show with Bowers on keys, but this time around, the Minneapolis-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist will play a pre-album release show to support his upcoming June 10 release, While You Were Sleeping on Blue Note Records, with Bowers opening the gig. His new album is Heroes + Misfits on Concord Records.



Winning plenty of critical acclaim for his previous Blue Note album, No Beginning No End, James may be headed down that same road, although artistically it appears that he has shifted gears again, at least based on the provocative sounds of his first single, “EveryLittleThing,” which was released digitally on April 15.

The new track will definitely raise eyebrows and spark anticipation of the entire album. With soulful vocal tone in tact, James reminds listeners that he is not confined to any particular style as he presents bold beats and electronic effects with experimental rock influences that accompanies what sounds like spoken-word poetry a conscious rapper would embrace.

Between James and his sophisticated lyrical technique, plus Bowers and his wide-ranging keyboard work, shifting from soul, to jazz, to hip-hop, to whatever they choose, makes for one exhilarating ride down a highway of new simplicity in music making.

“This album is a synthesis of everything I love about music,” says James, “from contemporary artists like Frank Ocean, James Blake, and Junip to groundbreaking artists I grew up with like Nirvana, Radiohead, and Madlib. It’s also a love letter to many late nights spent in East London clubs like Plastic People and Cargo, watching new movements unfold in electronic music. I want people to feel the joy of discovery that I experience night after night onstage, reaching for something new.”

While You We’re Sleeping is his fifth studio album and second for Blue Note Records. The tracklisting is as follows:


  1. Angel (José James)
  2. U r the 1 (J. James/T. Billig/K. Bowers/B. Williams)
  3. While You Were Sleeping (J. James)
  4. Anywhere U Go (J. James/S. Dorsey)
  5. Bodhisattva (J. James/S. Dorsey)
  6. 4 Noble Truths (J. James)
  7. Dragon feat. Becca Stevens (Becca Stevens)
  8. Salaam (K. Bowers/B. Williams/S. Dorsey/R. Spaven)
  9. Without U (J. James/T. Billig/B. Williams)
  10.  EveryLittleThing (J. James/K. Bowers)
  11.  xx (J. James)
  12.  Simply Beautiful feat. Takuya Kuroda (Al Green)


Courtesy of Concord Music Group
Courtesy of Concord Music Group


Heroes + Misfits is Bowers debut album for Concord Records. He is the 2011 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. James is also a guest vocalist on Heroes + Misfits. “Bringing this album into the world was a matter of figuring out how to create the most honest representation as possible of who I am as a musician and a composer,” says Bowers. “I wanted to take all the different types of music and all the different influences that are part of who I am, and make all of those things a part of my original compositions.”







April 15 – World Café Life – Philadelphia, PA

April 17-18 – Scullers – Boston, MA

April 20 – Evanston SPACE – Chicago, IL

April 21 – Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN

April 22-23 – Dazzle – Denver, CO

April 24 – The Triple Door – Seattle, WA

April 25 – Alberta Rose Theatre – Portland, OR

April 26 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA

June 12 – Highline Ballroom – New York, NY

June 15 – Playboy Jazz Festival @ Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA

June 20 – Magoffin Auditorium – El Paso, TX

June 21 – Charline McCombs Empire Theatre – San Antonio, TX

June 22 – Empire Control Room – Austin, TX

June 26 – The Pour House – Raleigh, NC

June 28 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA


Robin James welcomes reader responses at jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com.