Album Releases

José James Announces March Release For New Album, ‘Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday’

By , Editor | The Jazz Line
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José James has announced the release date of his next album.

The critically acclaimed vocalist will honor his “musical mother” Billie Holiday‘s 100th birthday with the March 31 release of his latest project, ‘Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday.’

Jose James Album Cover - Yesterday I Had The Blues - Billie Holiday

Produced by Blue Note Records president Don Was, the album will feature pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Eric Harland alongside James as they cover nine songs that were either written or popularized by the legendary blues songstress.

“My first clear musical memory is of Billie Holiday,” James recalled in the album’s liner notes. “Billie’s voice floated through our house – grand, warm, intimate, and wholly unique.” Holiday’s influence on James’ unique vocal qualities is clear. Much like Ms. Holiday, James possesses the unique ability to speak to your heart just as much as he does your ears.

“I rediscovered Billie during a difficult period of my teenage years,” James wrote. “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.”

Billie Holiday was born in Philadelphia on April 7, 1915 and as a young woman being raised in Baltimore, the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith formed the strong musical foundation upon which she rose to become one of the most celebrated vocalists of all time. Frank Sinatra notes that Holiday influenced ‘every major pop singer of her generation in the U.S., with few exceptions.’ A uniquely emotive voice coupled with the skill to improvise effortlessly and the confidence to manipulate phrasing and tempo to her will made her truly one of a kind.

>> See Also: Politico’s fascinating excerpt detailing the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ pursuit of Billie Holiday and other black American jazz artists.

With Holiday’s centennial on the horizon, James’ album is sure to be just one of many upcoming tributes to “Lady Day,” as she was known.

James will celebrate the album’s release with performances in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan in February before planning a short U.S. tour in support of the album. While additional dates have yet to be announced, James is due to appear in Atlanta, GA on April 4, and New York City, NY on May 8.

Check out the full ‘Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday’ track-list below:

  1. Good Morning Heartache
  2. Body and Soul
  3. Fine and Mellow
  4. I Thought About You
  5. What a Little Moonlight Can Do
  6. Tenderly
  7. Lover Man
  8. God Bless the Child
  9. Strange Fruit

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