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No Beginning No End

Jose James
BLUE NOTE
I’ll be damned if this isn’t in my top five 335 days from now. The jazzy singer from Minneapolis finally gets a proper U.S. introduction after two incredible records on DJ Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label and a quiet-as-a-whisper standards album on Verve. Those in the know have wielded his songs as secret weapons for several years, but now is the time the rest of the world gets familiar. Opening in a vein not far removed from D’Angelo’s Voodoo (and co-produced by D’s longtime bassist Pino Palladino), the album’s first third has a snap and nod-factor that is undeniable, including the single “Trouble” and the Robert Glasper-assisted “Vanguard.” Two gorgeous songs from singer/songwriter Emily King, one a duet, mellow things out in the middle before the sweeping “Tomorrow,” nakedly vocals, strings and piano, closes out this remarkable, essential album.