Sarah James


Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in the NY metro area, Ms. James came from a family with musical influences from her grandfather, who came from County Cork, Ireland, and played traditional Irish music on accordian and parents who were big jazz fans with an extensive record collection of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Huddie Leadbetter, Lightnin' Hopkins and Frank Sinatra recordings. Piano lessons started at 10 and as a child listening to William B. Williams and his "Make Believe Ballroom" on radio, and DJ's such as Allison Steele, "The Nightbird" and Jonathan Schwartz, the music of the big bands and the Great American Songbook informed her sensibility. As a teenager, she went to the famous Woodstock music festival and heard Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, The Band "LIVE " AND in their hey day and heard Jim Morrison and The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, George Adams, Don Van Vliet and The Magic Band, Shirley Horn, Carmen Mc Crae, Sonny Rollins, Jaki Bayard and others, all in their prime performance mode at the Fillmore East and West and other venues on the east and west coasts. After traveling and performing around in the USA in the early 70's singing and playing alto saxophone in bands and doing solo guitar gigs, she moved to the northwest to Eugene, Oregon. Here she met Sonny King and Nancy King and jazz became her primary focus. She moved back to the east coast in the late 70's and since then she continues to persue the jazz muse in many forms. From straight ahead jazz singing with swinging rhythm sections, to solo piano and vocal gigs, to performances and recording with The American Tribal Ensemble, an ever changing aggregation of musical and poetry associates who stretch the boundaries of form and composition, to singing her poetry solo and with some of her favorite musical collegues, she keeps an active performance life. With influences that are many and varied, there is always some new creative endeavor brewing! At present, Sarah is performing locally in the NYC area solo, with her big band and with Her Trio, which features Ed Schuller, John di Martino, Oscar Perez, Victor Jones, Greg Buford, John Menegon, Tim Horner and many of the area's best and brightest. She appears regularly with The Betty Liste Trio in Hackensack NJ, (check the calendar) Also, she is doing poetry readings, working on her upcoming new recording of original music and, an upcoming recording of poems from her new book, BEAUTIFUL CHAOS featuring her photographs of NYC graffitti and murals along with her music/poetry. Sarah is primarily a singer, but is also a multi-instumentalist. She plays Alto and Soprano saxophones, Flute and Piano. She is a composer, songwriter, producer and lyricist. At present, she is also working on an independent documentary on jazz singers and more info will be on these pages about that coming soon!