James is a versatile guitarist, composer and arranger. A Master’s graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music, having been selected onto RNCM’s Accelerated Pathway as an undergraduate, James was principally tutored by classical guitarist Craig Ogden, concurrently studying jazz with pianist Dan Whieldon. Awards he has received include the Biddy Baxter & John Hosier Music Trust’s Special Award, RNCM Principal’s Prize for jazz improvisation, and Sir John Manduell Prize as composer-bandleader. Since winning the RNCM Gold Medal, James gave his Wigmore Hall debut solo recital, had the unique experience performing in Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, and has performed with the BBC Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, and RLPO’s Ensemble 10/10. As soloist with orchestra, following performances of Rodrigo’s Fantasía para un Gentilhombre, he made his Concierto de Aranjuez debut in 2019. He has been selected onto the International Guitar Foundation’s Young Artist Platform.
James’ flute-guitar Meraki Duo were finalists in the most recent Royal Over-Seas League Competition (Mixed Ensembles). They have given concerts at Wigmore Hall and at Kings Place for London Guitar Festival, and are also Live Music Now artists. Meanwhile, James tours the UK and in Europe with Afrobeat/Ethiojazz-inspired 11-piece Agbeko, Prohibition-era septet The Easy Rollers and contemporary jazz-based Lieko Quintet. As guitarist in the RNCM Big Band throughout his studies, James performed alongside eminent soloists such as Martin Taylor, Tim Garland, Nikki Iles, Julian Joseph and Markus Stockhausen, and was invited to return as guest soloist. Northern Line and Introduces artists with Jazz North, his own quintet Artephis has featured across the North’s jazz festivals. Chiefly composed by James, their debut album aired on BBC Radio 3 and on Radio 2 as Jamie Cullum’s BBC Introducing highlight of the year. As arranger, James has received commissions from Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden, composer Andy Scott, and AGQ.
The Transmission Fund will enable me to embark on private study with, and creative mentoring from, two different players of the traditional Spanish/classical guitar who are innovative specialists and locally unparalleled authorities in their respective musical idioms: Ramon Ruiz, a Spanish flamenco guitarist based in London; and Brazilian guitarist based in Paris, Nelson Veras, who is technically unique as a contemporary jazz improviser on the classical guitar.
As a classically trained, improvising guitarist, I aim to coalesce my creatively discrete dual musical personalities - a classical guitarist on the one hand, a jazz improviser on the other - into a combined practice. First-hand insight into the distinct specialisms and disciplines of Ramon Ruiz and Nelson Veras can help me realise a technical and stylistic symbiosis on classical guitar, informing and shaping my practice and musical direction in the long term.