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Black Magic

Inspired by John Coltrane, New Yorker Jose James creates magic with Flying Lotus and Moodymann

At the end of 2009, Jose James teamed up with Belgian pianist Jef Neve for a series of stunning John Coltrane tribute gigs. Forming a deep bed of inspiration for his sophomore album 'Blackmagic', the gifted cosmic vocalist went on to work with legends of the beat from both Los Angeles - Flying Lotus (who produced the title track as streamed below) and Detroit, Moodymann. The forward thinking roll call also included Joy Orbison and Untold turning in banging remixes. Currently on tour in Japan and celebrating the essence of Blackmagic, Jose James is proving that love does reign supreme.

Dazed Digital: How’s Japan?
Jose James: Japan is beautiful. The people are very deep and the respect for music and culture is immense. Very spiritual and traditional yet curious and modern at the same time. You have to adjust because there won't be one single sound during your concert while you play - then they explode with applause!

DD: What's your musical philosophy?
Jose James: Love for each other. It's about trying to understand the other, which is difficult. In this case the other could be jazz, hip-hop, soul or electronica. I'd like to show how similar these musical worlds really are through experimentation and a dope band. The record is a new page for me, 2010 jazz.

DD: In your opinion what was it about John Coltrane that is still so universally inspiring?
Jose James: John Coltrane was a man that fell and learned to walk again. When he learned to walk, he learned to fly. And then he taught others to fly, or at least introduced the possibility in others. People like that, it's not about jazz or music at all - that's just the means of communication. It's about the continuation and durability of the human spirit, and about the fragility of the human condition - which brings us back to love.

DD: How was it working with Fly Lo?
Jose James: Dope. He's a genius. He's a great composer and really brought me to a new place and a new freedom musically. I think our songs are really strong and will stand the test of time.

DD: And Moodymann? The legend.
Jose James: How do you fit into a Moodymann composition? I sat with that for four months. Then one day the skies opened up and Detroit Loveletter fell into my head. The way he blends everything and brings it to the dance floor is amazing. True musical giant.

DD: What's 2010 coming to?
Jose James: Big, big change. That's all I see and feel. The way that we live and create, how we interact, how we think about the world. That includes music because art helps us define our reality in new ways and gives us the strength to grow and challenge ourselves. I think the live music industry is killing it right now artistically and new fresh artists are popping up all the time via the internet worldwide.
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