Acclaimed vocalist José James has announced a March 31, 2015 release for his new album Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday, a tribute to the legendary singer in honor of Holiday’s 100th birthday. James celebrates the woman he refers to as his “musical mother” with this stunning set of 9 songs written or popularized by Holiday. The album, which was produced by Blue Note president Don Was, features a stellar band including pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Eric Harland. Watch the album trailer.
“My first clear musical memory is of Billie Holiday,” writes James in the album’s liner notes. “Billie’s voice floated through our house – grand, warm, intimate, and wholly unique.” Those same words could certainly be applied to James’ own voice, a versatile baritone that is distinct in its richness and expressiveness, as can be heard on his two previous Blue Note releases – 2013’s R&B steeped No Beginning No End and 2014’s experimental rock-edged While You Were Sleeping.
“I rediscovered Billie during a difficult period of my teenage years,” continues James. “As much as I loved Nirvana, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest, her music spoke to me on a much deeper level. Her work was mastery – of pain, of trauma, of faith in music and the power of transformation. I had found my teacher. Billie Holiday made me want to be a jazz singer and set me on the path that I’m walking today. “
Holiday was born on April 7, 1915 and is widely considered to be among the most influential jazz singers of all time. James has begun celebrating Holiday’s centennial with performances across the across the U.S. with further tour dates to be announced shortly.