Houston-born, New York City-based pianist, keyboardist, and composer James Francies is the newest signee to the prestigious Blue Note Records label, a feat he’s remarkably accomplishing at the tender age of 23. But Francies is wise beyond his years and his rise through the music world can only be described as meteoric. He’s already played with jazz royalty like Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Stefon Harris, Eric Harland, and Terrace Martin, in addition to racking up equally impressive credits in hip-hop and R&B: from gigs with Ms. Lauryn Hill, José James, Common, and Nas, to studio time for Chance the Rapper’s Grammy-winning hit “No Problem” and Kodak Black, to appearances with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon alongside his mentor and friend Questlove. On October 19, Francies will be releasing his debut album, Flight, produced by Derrick Hodge and featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist Mike Moreno, vibraphonist Joel Ross, bassist Burniss Travis II, drummers Jeremy Dutton and Mike Mitchell, and guest appearances by vocalists YEBBA, Chris Turner, and Kate Kelsey-Sugg.
“I wanted Flight to have its own sonic identity, so I blended electronic-sounding stuff with acoustic playing, without compromising any of the compositions or the soloing.” Francies says that his experiences outside of jazz have helped him with concepts like “assembling sounds, consistency, delivery and the ability to support,” and it certainly isn’t difficult to hear these lessons throughout the album. “This record is for everybody,” says Francies.
You can stream “Dreaming” below, the lead single from Flight, featuring vocalist Chris Turner and drummer Mike Mitchell. The album is available for pre-order as of today.
Flight, the debut album by pianist, keyboardist and composer James Francies is coming to Blue Note Records October 19th.