Saxophonist James has long since mastered the formula for creating bestselling smooth jazz records, despite the disdain from jazz traditionalists and purists. futuresoul is the summer of 2015’s urban hang suite, an ice-cool tonic of bedroom-voiced saxophone, swaggering synths, unshakeable beats and state-of-the-art rhythmic flow.
Vocals by Stokely (Mint Condition) and contributions from rising trumpet star Marquis Hill (“Far From Home”) cement James’ reputation in the pop instrumental arena. The title track was co-written by Dwele and James, a cross over collaboration that delivers the goods. Nipping at James’ heels on the charts are current records by Najee, Kirk Whalum and an assertively hip album by David Sanborn (Time And The River, Okeh). futuresoul is the smooth jam of the hour and it’s James for the win. (10 tracks; 41 minutes)