James Hall is a versatile trombonist/composer re-imagining professional musicianship for the millennial generation.
Hall’s sophomore release, Lattice (Outside In 2018), described as “a masterpiece of chamber music” (JazzLife Magazine), is built around the harmonious combination of Hall’s dexterous trombone and the virtuosic flute playing of Jamie Baum, a pliable and expressive study in contrasts. Kirk Silsbee praised the work’s “graceful instrumental combinations and linear development” (Downbeat Magazine), and Bob Morello called the work “a tasty treat” and “a potpourri of great tunes” (Boston Post-Gazette).
Previously, Hall blurred the line between classical chamber music and free jazz with Soon We Will Not Be Here (2015), creating original settings of poetry by contemporary New York City-based poets Tina Chang, Paolo Javier, Malena Mörling, and Emily Ruth Hazel for quartet. Premiering at Fridman Gallery in downtown Manhattan, this project found an enthusiastic underground listenership in France, the UK, Belgium, and the US on Taran’s Free Jazz Hour.
When not leading his own projects, Hall is often to be found touring and recording internationally with viral sensation Postmodern Jukebox, with whom he has recorded videos tallying over 80 million YouTube views; or with Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, whose salsa dura interpretations of indie rock have been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Latin Hot List. Speaking on his aesthetic choices, Hall says “I really believe in the non-musical aspects of music, so I believe in a fun concert experience. I believe in humor. I believe in accessibility even when the music itself is not accessible.”
As a composer and bandleader, James was named a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, won three ASCAPlus Awards for composition, and was a featured performer/composer at the Chelsea Music Festival. James' trombone playing earned third place, runner-up, and honorable mention in the Antti Rissanen, J.J. Johnson, and Carl Fontana International Jazz Trombone Competitions, respectively.
James holds degrees from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. His teachers have included Luis Bonilla, Hal Crook, Michael Dease, Nick Keelan, Ed Neumeister, and Fred Sturm.
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"A close listen here indicates graceful instrumental combinations and linear development [...] Hall is a warm-toned and lyrical player"
-Kirk Silsbee, Downbeat Magazine
"A talented voice in today’s jazz."
-Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
"charming stage presence...original and personal interpretations...abundance and freshness of tone"
-Reijo Paavola, Kymen Sanomat
"But standouts in the back row were in the horn section. James Hall on trombone (tall and skinny, not unlike a vertical trombone) anchored some lively brass sections"
-Tony Lacy-Thompson, The Mercury News