“Is José James a jazz singer or a soul singer?” the LA Times once asked. “Old school or new school? A guardian of tradition or a seeker of thrills? Yes, yes and yes.” The New York singer with Panamanian roots was discovered by the influential DJ Gilles Peterson many years ago. Since then, James, the man with the velvety baritone voice, has recorded albums for legendary labels such as Blue Note and Impulse, and he now even runs his own. James is a genre chameleon: he loves hip-hop, funk, pop and R&B equally. He has dedicated complete albums to his idols Bill Withers and Billie Holiday, and it’s now Erykah Badu’s turn. Working with a young quintet, he translates the R&B queen’s ultra-casual sound into cool foot-tapping jazz. Still far from common: James’ all-female wind section with the saxophonists Ebban Dorsey and Diana Dzhabbar.