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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
The Dreamer
Format: Audio CD|Change

VINE VOICEon 17 April 2008
It takes a full twenty minutes into Jose James's debut the The Dreamer before I'm left truly impressed. "Spirits Up Above," is a fine track indeed. New Orleans in its feel with the bluesy collective chant and the rolling piano it branches off into some fine percussion work before lurching back into the chorus. Top stuff. So why did we have to wait so long to escape from the New York dirge of the first four tracks? It's as though at last the record has finally kicked in. "Nola" follows, the vocal far rangier and confident, the band finally letting loose. Another excellent track.
Don't expect to find something radically new on this. James has a soft, sleek delivery that is very easy on the ear, a straight Jazz voice not erring to other singer styles. But somehow it doesn't captivate me. It's a problem, because I actually found the first part of the album quite mundane. It's as though there's James voice and the band - you're listening to one or the other, not both at the same time.
The arranagements are predictably superb, particualrly Alexi David on bass, who carries the flow of the album quite excellently.
Perhaps after all the hype and plugging I'm entitled to feel a little bit disappointed. "The Dreamer" - more accomplished than spectacular.
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on 1 March 2008
Brooklyn based, half-Irish and half-Panamanian José James sounds like a soulful cross between Gil Scott Heron, Terry Callier and Kurt Elling. He's definitely a jazz singer and we don't seem to have enough of those, especially younger ones to take the music form forward. He sings here as part of a basic quartet made up of him, Nori Ochiai on piano, Alexi David on bass and Steve Lyman on drums - though Luke Damrosch plays drums on "The Dreamer" and "blackeyedsusan" and Junior Mance plays piano on "Spirits Up Above".

There's another slight variation to the line-up (and general vibe of the album) on "Park Bench People", where Ryan Blum takes up keyboards and Gal Ben Haim plays guitar. Blum also plays keys on the album closer, the drum & bass-inspired "Love". Omar Abdukarim also plays trumpet albeit, on the title track only.

It isn't the most exciting album I've ever heard (James just doesn't have the vocal range for that and I'm grateful that "Love" was included here) but it's certainly very interesting and what he may lack in vocal range, he more than makes up for in tone and warmth. I'd never heard of José James before (I believe it was my buddy Joe who pointed him out to me - thanks Joe!) and I think this is his first album. What I can't take away from the man however, is his undeniable songwriting, producing and arranging talent and I also have to give him respect for deciding to go this route when pop or r&b could have potentially offered him so much more, so much more quickly. He obviously loves and believes in what he's doing. He can only get better from here and I look forward to that. Definitely one to look out for.

Mostly produced and arranged by James himself and executive produced by no other than the legendary Giles Peterson - a man who knows a thing or two about good music if anyone does - "The Dreamer" could be the ideal soundtrack to your summer family gatherings, card games, cocktails parties, or that midnight hour. Highly recommended.
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on 6 February 2008
Superb first CD from new comer Jose James. If your a fan of male Jazz vocals and say you like Mark Murphy, Bill Henderson, or Oscar Brown Jr you will love this CD.
Superb deep toned vocals and he writes pretty good songs as well.
Don't be put off its on a Gilles Peterson label. Giles still likes his Jazz and knows when he is on a winner!
Go get a copy and enjoy
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on 22 December 2015
Debut that has never been better in Jose's subsequent releases. Perfect vocal jazz and smooth trumpet
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on 12 February 2008
This album is way out there in terms of showing just what a classy guy, new boy, Mr J J is. His inspiration in writing and arranging this blissful music, his subtle, yet true, passion in performing it; along with inspired playing from many superb musicians who accompany him, mark this debut album out as an absolute joy. Buy it. Then you won't be able to live without it either.
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on 12 August 2014
very good
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on 8 June 2015
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on 21 August 2014
Amazing artist. I use this album in the gym too!
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on 17 November 2011
When you first hear Jose James, you can only be drawn in by his beautiful deep baritone voice and the soft jazzy piano accompaniments of his debut album "The Dreamer". Indeed, this would be the music I would choose to listen to if I am wanting to spend a little time to myself and just think and daydream the day away.

"The Dreamer" is a really beautifully crafted jazzy opener to the album and has a smooth velvety feel to it. "Velvet" gives off a similar vibe with the exception that it is more experimental and interestingly chaotic. "Blackeyedsusan" is a more rhythmic composition with a beautiful mellow melody and subtle arrangements that remind you of music you would hear in a great jazz club. "Park Bench People" is very funky and the vocal harmonies and phrasing are very good. "Spirits Up Above" has a clear gospel and blues influence and adds variety to this release. "Nola" is quite an intriguing tune as it has a fast paced rhythm accompanied by a slow piano led melody which makes it quite experimental and improvised. "Red" is another fast paced track with a more pronounced jazzy feel and a cool tempo. "Winter Wind" is a mellow and atmospheric track with a sweet melody and a pleasant instrumental piano section. "Desire" is very warm and sentimental with soothing arrangements and vocals. The final track "Love" has a drum and bass style beat and is a very suave and sensual way to end the album.

The blend of Jose's sensual voice and the subtle jazz arrangements make "The Dreamer" a beautiful and personal record. I think that Jose James has a wonderful talent and he will be an artist to watch in the years to come.
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on 26 January 2011
Jose James - The Dreamer (Brownswood)
I'm not a big fan of contemporary jazz vocalists - you know who I'm talking about. The guys all seem far too enamored with Sinatra and for the women it's Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Nina Simone. It all seems a trifle irrational trying to sound like your hero or heroine. Happily, James is his own man. His debut is a beautifully balanced collection of mostly self-penned songs, which emphasize both his smoky baritone and the cooler than cool arrangements. Not to say that James has honed his style in a vacuum; his version of the Freestyle Fellowship's "Park Bench People" borrows in style from Gil Scott-Heron and his take on Rashaan Roland Kirk's "Spirits Up Above" has drawn comparisons to Andy Bey. 9/10.
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