Album: Jose James & Jef Neve, For All We Know (Verve)

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After two promising independent soul-jazz albums, Brooklyn vocalist Jose James goes all Great American Songbook on this major-label debut with Belgian pianist Neve.

In truth, he's all over the place, pitch wavering badly on the opening "Autumn in New York", and although his voice has a warm, seductive intonation, he can't sell a song like Tony Bennett, and Neve is probably no Bill Evans, either. You do catch a glimpse of the smooch-fest this could have been. But in a bare-bones duo, the exposed singer needs pipes.

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