Jose James, Sam Trump | The Promontory | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Jose James, Sam Trump Recommended 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Sun., Jan. 18, 8 p.m. 2015

Throughout his slightly schizophrenic discography, expansive soul singer Jose James has bounced from jazz standards to soul-pop to slick hip-hop-infused R&B, but in 2013 he seemed to settle into a sweet spot with No Beginning No End (Blue Note). He released a strong follow-up last year, While You Were Sleeping, his second album for celebrated jazz imprint Blue Note (though his music has little to do with jazz). James is obviously feeling confident: not only did he coproduce the record, he struts his range throughout, to the point that it’s almost distracting. Thankfully, he never relies on pastiche or nostalgia; he may reference the past, but he makes time-tested styles sound contemporary. While You Were Sleeping includes psychedelic funk (“Angel”), a chill post-Bill Withers meditation (“While You Were Sleeping”), wide-screen indie rock (“Anywhere U Go”), cinematic folk-pop (“4 Noble Truths”), and even a minimalist Al Green cover (“Simply Beautiful”). James holds it all together with his nimble, unflashy baritone and a consistent aesthetic that privileges grace and composure. For this performance he’s shifting gears yet again, previewing music from his next album, a relatively jazz-oriented affair that pays homage to Billie Holiday in the year of her centennial. —Peter Margasak

Price: $16-$26

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