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Friday, September 13
7:00 PM
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All-in Pricing
Kuumbwa Jazz Presents

José James Presents 1978

6:00 PM
All Ages
Dinner Specials can be purchased in advance or at the counter (subject to availability). To guarantee the purchase of the Dinner Special, please order in advance. The menu will be posted to this event page as soon as it is selected by our chef. If you are purchasing a dinner before the menu is announced, you will receive the menu via email within a week of the concert date. Please click the ‘Café Kuumbwa' button above for more information. Thank you!

The historically and musically significant year of 1978 is also the year singer/songwriter/producer José James was born in Minneapolis, and now, is the title of his twelfth album. Released on April 5th, 2024, 1978 is a double-disc LP featuring 9 transcendent tracks that capture James at a mid-career apex, craftily overlapping soul, hip-hop, jazz and other jazz-adjacent styles into a fully realized album of remarkable focus. The songs range from the deeply personal intimacy to politically minded and message-driven. The grooves stretch from edgy and resolute, to relaxed and seductive. The performances are supported by a lean-and-lithe lineup of young talent and unexpected collaborators: guitarist Marcus Machado (who has played with Robert Glasper and Anderson Paak), keyboardist Chad Selph (Lalah Hathaway, Bilal), bassist David Ginyard (Solange, Blood Orange), drummer Jharis Yokley (Chance the Rapper, Ani DiFranco) and featured guest on various tracks, Latin conguero Pedrito Martinez.

“This kind of band, small and tight, is how I stay connected to my jazz essence,” states James. “They can play anything. Everything we tracked, we did with everyone looking at each other in the studio. “I wanted that live feeling, like we’re discovering it for the first time.”

Material-wise, James had been ready for awhile. He had worked on new songs even while touring behind his albums No Beginning No End 2 and On & On. “Many of the songs on 1978 began to come together about five years ago. Those ideas evolved, and once we had the group together it all really came together fast.” It was during this period he was introduced to Leon Ware, the Motown songwriter who famously worked with Marvin Gaye in the 1970s. A friendship soon grew into a working relationship.

“I had a writing session with Leon back in 2009 in L.A. at his house in Marina Del Rey. He rolled one and we talked for hours about jazz, Motown and Marvin. I Want You is my all-time favorite album—relaxed grooves and jazz flavors. I wanted 1978 to feel like Leon and J Dilla had come together and made an album for me.”

James’s 1978 draws its power from both a timeless relevancy and a deep sense of the personal. It is a richly layered musical statement connecting both to the present day, and to past sounds and styles as well—a sincere and seductive valentine to his love of jazz, soul, and hip-hop.

José James Website

Sponsored by Heit Family Dentistry
(Ticket Includes 5% City of Santa Cruz Admission Tax)


Kuumbwa Jazz Center
320 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, 95060 United States
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