What a week…First, on behalf of the KCRW family I’d like to extend our thoughts and prayers to those of you affected by the fires here in Southern California. With that in mind, I must commend the station for excellent coverage of the impacted areas. Yet another great example of KCRW’s significant role in so many of our lives. We certainly hope you feel the same way and have decided to either join or renew your membership to assist us in providing the coverage and news you need; especially in times like this. In fact, today is the last day of our end of the year flash drive. You still have time to join in the last hours and get in on all the great sweepstakes. Click on the link here and find out more info. Now on to some new music you should check out this weekend.
Jose James – “Same Love That Made Me Laugh” (Bill Withers Cover)
Jose James is known to most KCRW listeners by now. Though he is probably still associated with jazz, over the last several years his music has evolved and gone more in the direction of R&B, soul, and pop. As he once said to me, “I’m not a jazz singer, I’m an artist man. I like to create.” During this metamorphosis, James found his live set slowly changing and making room for one of his all time favorite writers, Bill Withers. First, it was “Sunshine” which he would immediately jump into after his song “Trouble” from his 2013 album No Beginning No End. Then came “Grandma’s Hands” and “Use Me” followed shortly thereafter. This has all led to his recent announcement of a two year tour celebrating the music of Bill Withers. The tour kicks off on Jan 11th in New York. You can find a complete list of the dates here. Take a look at James’ version of “Same Love That Made Me Laugh.”
Miguel – “Sky Walker (feat. Travis Scott)”
Speaking of someone blossoming…Miguel has been both a staple in the LA music scene and the KCRW airwaves over the last decade. It has been amazing to see his growth and world to recognize his talent. He just released is fourth studio album War & Leisure and it wasn’t until I listened through the first time that I realized he filled a void that had been missing in R&B since his 2015 release, Wildheart. Best example of what’s been missing is “Sky Walker” from the new album.
Wajatta – “Runnin'”
Comedian Reggie Watts and veteran electronic producer John Tejada are an unlikely pairing, for sure. But somehow, when you listen to the music, it makes sense. The first offering from their collaborative project, Wajatta, which is a fusion of their names by the way, is “Runnin'”, which is a fun and frenetic dance song. Watts gives credit to Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins as his inspiration behind his wordless approach on the track. He says, “She was really the first one that, when I heard the music, I was like, what language is this in? She has this weird mixture that oscillates between sounds. I think there’s something more interesting about hearing something that sounds kind of close to something else, but you’re not sure what it is, until you start to develop your own meaning.” Take a listen and this will all make a lot of sense.
(Jose James by Davis Bell , Miguel by Larry Hirshowitz)