2013: Montreux Jazz Club. At a high-energy concert, José James performed “Ain’t No Sunshine” by the legendary Bill Withers. Suave voice, contagious groove, hip-hop incursions, masterful improvisations: the Minneapolis crooner makes the song last 12 minutes. Magic. So when he dedicated an entire album to classics from the same Bill Withers, we were overjoyed. Lean On Me, his fifth work on Blue Note, is fascinating in its purity. José James, reputed for his musical hybridizations, has chosen to stay extremely close to the compositions of his idol. It was the right choice: his voice, richer and warmer than ever, embraces the lyrics of the soul man as though they were telling his own life story. Like Isaac Hayes, Al Jarreau, and Paul McCartney before him, José James proves once again that Bill Withers’ work is immortal.