Born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, James began playing the piano at the age of 7. He underwent classical training,then studied harmony at Clarendon Music College.
After completing his A-levels in 1992, he decided to study at the Leeds College
of Music where he obtained a first class BA Honours degree in Jazz and
Contemporary Music, studying piano with Nikki Iles.
After Leeds he moved to London, studying at the Guildhall School of Music
and Drama, where he gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Jazz and Studio
music, studying, among others,with pianists Simon Purcell and John Taylor. He
rapidly started to find work on the London jazz scene,and soon began playing
with a variety of musicians, an association that has continued to this day James has played with many different musicians both nationally and internationally.
He is a regular member of Gerard Presencer's Platypus, the Dave OHiggins Band, the Geoff Gascoyne Quartet , has performed with Guy Barker's international quintet, the Clark Tracey quartet , the Jean Toussaint band and has performed with, among others , Jim Mullen, Peter King, Art Themen, Alan Barnes, Bobby Watson, Dale Barlow, James Moody (with whom he toured Spain), and Javon Jackson.
More commercial work includes tours and recordings with Omar, The James Taylor Quartet , Us3 ,Incognito, jazz-funk outfit Akimbo(featuring members of primal-scream + brand new heavies) and GrooveJam.
James appears on 'The Grinders Monkey' with Dave O' Higgins, 'The Optimist' by Gerard Presencer(Linn records) ,'Bums rush' featuring Jim Mullen and Mornington Lockett, '47 Frith St' by NYJO, and Incognito's forthcoming album.
James was nominated for the 1998 BT jazz awards in the rising star category, won the best soloist prize in the 'Europe Jazz Contest' (Jazz Hoeillart) held in Belgium in 1996 and was the overall winner of the 'Worshipful Company Of Musicians' award in 1997.