José James on “Lush Life”

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“Lush Life,” the jazz standard written by Billy Strayhorn and famously recorded by Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane is an iconic song for most jazz fans. In this video, the new vocal sensation José James discusses the importance of the song, from its original conception (by Billy Strayhorn in his teens) to its forward-moving musical nature.

After the explanation by James, treat yourself to his sublime version of “Lush Life,” performed live with Belgian pianist Jef Neve. The song comes from their album on Impulse!, For All We Know, available in stores now.

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Photos of José James at Hiro Ballroom, NYC

Our show with José James this weekend was a great success. José and his band were on point with their blend of classic jazz structures, experimental sounds and hip hop rhythms. Jordana de Lovely sang background vocals, providing a nice feminine counterpart to José’s smooth deep voice.

Between songs, José made sure to thank his major influences and collaborators, including Flying Lotus and Taylor McFerrin. He noted Nancy Wilson, Dinah Washington (and many more) after his version of “Save Your Love For Me,” and expressed his dedication to Billy Strayhorn before launching into “Lush Life.”  Overall, José and the band wowed the audience with various tracks from Blackmagic and a couple tracks off his upcoming project with Jef Neve on Impulse, For All We Know.

Enjoy the photos, and a big thank you to those of you who came out!