Armed with dubbed out drum breaks, slick horn arrangements, and his sentimental baritone style, Jose James brings his debut CD on Blue Note/EMI Records. No Beginning, No End starts off with “All Over Your Body”, a R&B/jazz treat with D’Angelo-like style. In fact, much of the CD feels like an intimate performance in a dusky room with an entrancing storyteller with a sound like that of the late Gil-Scott Heron, yet more smooth.
Joining James on this set are co-producer and bassist Pino Palladino, drummer Richard Spaven, keyboardist Grant Windsor, trombonist Corey King, trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, and guitarist Jeremy Most. Special guest collaborations include pianist Robert Glasper on the track “Vanguard”, French-Moroccan vocalist Hindi Zahra for the musical appeal, “Sword & Gun”, and producer Palladino co-wrote with James “Make it Right”, “All Over Your Body”, and the title track. Vocalist and guitarist Emily King provides two R&B/pop gems here, “Come To My Door”, and (in duet with James) the graceful, “Heaven On The Ground”. Equal part smoky and sweet, their duet is indeed a highlight of the entire disc.
Bringing out the gospel-style vibrato in James with his confessional write, “Do You Feel”, is pianist Kris Bowers, who gives the keys a steady solo workout. Then, all turns meditative in his performance of the tracks, “Bird of Space”, and “Tomorrow”. What have with No Beginning No End is an artist who is as comfortable in jazz as he is in pop and this project provides a seamless, even-handed delivery of both.