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Bassists, I have noticed, seem obsessed with the idea of having a ‘sound’, like it’s a little, powerful daemon that follows each of them about. I think this might translate to an idea of Tone. James has a great ‘sound’. Full, rich, strong; Bit like the coffee he makes every time we invite ourselves round to his for brunch…

Rachel Sermanni

James Banner was born in Dudley, England and is now based in Berlin and the UK, working as an improvising musician and composer. Current projects include workshopping and recording unperformed solo pieces for double bass, researching and developing a digital publication on improvisational solo studies for bassists, a limited edition recycled tape and digital solo release, as well as TEXTS, commissioning 6 international authors to create new works for the duo of Stephanie Lamprea + James Banner plus guests from Berlin + NYC including Anna Webber, Liz Kosack, Nick Dunston and Michaël Attias. Ensemble projects as a leader include James Banner’s USINE, featured in portraits and broadcasts by Deutschlandfunk Kultur and RBB Kultur, and co-curating the monthly improvised music residency Practically Married with pianist Declan Forde at Berlin’s Donau115.

As a performer and collaborator he has worked on projects with artists and organisations such as Podium Esslingen/Quadrature (#bebeethoven), Max Andrzejewski: HÜTTE, Berliner Ensemble (Nibelungen) + Maxim Gorki Theatre (Salome), Leipziger Jazztage (Fish and Chips with Anna-Lena Schnabel, Floria Weber, James Maddren), Musikcentrum Öst Stockholm (Jazz Alloy with Lina Nyberg, Laura Jurd, Daniel Karlsson), Making Music/Sound and Music/PRSF/BBC (Adopt A Composer), Centrala Birmingham (Art and Brexit Talk), Vanguard Manchester/The Arc Project (composition collaborations), Rachel Sermanni (So It Turns), Vilde&Inga (Berlin Tour w/John Hollenbeck, Toby Delius, Declan Forde), Stephanie Lamprea (Tiny-works) and Cansu Tanrıkulu (duo and RBB broadcast). He performs as a sideman with Birgitta Flick (Quartet/Septet), Jörg Hochapfel (Bruchgold und Koralle) and Tilo Weber (Four Fauns). 

As a soloist, he has worked with Paula Doepfner on for the trees to drop, a performance/installation/destruction at St Matthäus, Berlin, with speaker at James Turrell’s light-installation at the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof, at Ideas of Noise Festival 2020 (commission and premiere of The things my parents said about childhood), as well as solo livestreams with Around The Houses Festival, 5pm Series and Deep Tones For Peace. His current Call For Pieces project has created a community of 25+ composers from around the world, providing free online composition/double bass workshops, commissioning and producing and high quality recordings for portfolios to help professional development.

In autumn/winter 2021 he is also a guest with Tempus Konnex Ensemble at IMPULS 2021 (Halle), will perform in Outernational’s Songs of Wounding with Mariana Sadovska/Max Andrzejewski/Marta Zapparoli at TONLAGEN Dresden and Radialsystem Berlin, Nick Dunston’s The Floor Is Lava at Leipziger Jazztage, and premiere the duo with Stephanie Lamprea at soundfestival in Aberdeen.

As a first generation state educated student and artist/musician from a working class background, James is committed to using his current platform and privilege to widen representation in his own artistic projects, call for equity (especially in artistic development opportunities and higher education) and increase access to adventurous and original improvised music for young people. 

“…Banner’s bass alone sounds immensely colorful when played solo and lets tones and their sequences emerge in seemingly infinite numbers of smaller tone fragments. Everything sounds sonorous, warm and with so many unbelievably fine, tonal gradations. Banner shows again and again, without putting himself in the foreground when the band plays together, what enormous variety of sound and richness of color he can express with his instrument…”

Claus Volke

IMG-20191016-WA0002
with Rachel Sermanni

CALENDAR

202

2021

5.9. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – Steglitz, Berlin

5.9. – Practically Married featuring Lukas Akintaya – ZigZag Jazz Club, Berlin

10.9. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – Jazztreff Karlshorst, Berlin

12.9. – Practically Married – Industriesalon Schöneweide, Berlin

22.9. – Practically Married #31 with Evi Filippou – Donau115, Berlin

29.9. – Commission with NCN (electroacoustic piece collaboratively composed with toddlers) – in cooperation with Make The Paint Dance and Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network, funded by ACE – Leeds

7.10. – Nick Dunston The Floor Is Lava! – Leipziger Jazztage 2021, UT Connewitz

13.10. – IMPULS festival 2021: Nigun (guest with Tempus Konnex Ensemble performing Max Andrzejewski’s Mythos plus premiere by Matías Fernández Rosales) – Steintor-Varieté, Halle

14.10. – Toby Delius/Declan Forde/James Banner – Sowieso, Berlin

15.10. – Practically Married #32 featuring Mia Dyberg – Donau115, Berlin

17.10. – Declan Forde’s SPROGGITS – ZigZag Jazz Club, Berlin

23.10. – bass trio with Élise Dabrowski + Floretin Ginot – The Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen

24.10. – Stephanie Lamprea x James Banner [PREMIERE]soundfestival, The Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen

29.10. – Fundamentals of the New Normal (composed by Rachel Beckles-Willson) [PREMIERE] – online, 19:00 CET

2.11. – Dienstagssalon with Max Rademann: Songs of Wounding [PREVIEW] (w/Mariana Sadovska, Max Andrzejewski, curation: Elisa Erkelenz) – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste, Hellerau, Dresden

4.11. –  BACH Leuchtet! Solo concert + duo improvisation with organ + light installation – Ev. Lukas Kirche, Berlin

2.12. – Songs of Wounding [PREMIERE] – commissioned by Outernational – w/Max Andrzejewski, Mariana Sadovska, Marta Zapparoli – Radialsystem, Berlin

11.12. – Premiere of An August Midnight for solo harp/soprano – TBC, UK

16.12. – Bruchgold und Koralle – Musikinstrumenten Museum, Berlin

2022

12.2. – Max Andrzejewski’s HÜTTE – Dieselstraße, Esslingen

22.5. – w/Max Andrzejewski, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie Laienchor + 8 musicians [PREMIERE] – Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

UPCOMING PREMIERES

New works for solo double bass/bass ensemble online throughout 2021/22

all pieces will be premiered on my social media channels and linked below

Zygmund de Somogyi – Four Studies on the Subject of OMORI

Jamie Elless – Hospice (for six double basses)

Rachel Beckles Willson – piece for double bass + mixed media

Recording Max Andrzejewski’s MYTHOS for Berliner Ensemble, March 2021

RELEASES

UPCOMING

TEXTS (with Stephanie Lamprea) – Autumn/Winter 2021 [listen / preorder]

Voices of Berlin – Live recording, Autumn/Winter 2021

Bruchgold und Koralle

PREVIOUS

James Banner’s USINE – 2018 [listen / buy]

Tilo Weber Quartet: Four Fauns – Faun Renaissance – 2021 [listen / buy]

Alex Roth’s MultiTraction Orchestra – Emerge Entangled – 2020 [listen / buy]

Stephanie Lamprea – Unaccompanied: Tiny-Works For Quarantine – Vol 1 – 2020 [listen/buy]

Practically Married with Will Howard and Jordan Dinsdale – Short Step – 2020 [listen / buy]

Practically Married – Inventions In Time Vol. 1 – 2020 [listen / buy]

Practically Married – Inventions In Time Vol. 2 – 2020 [listen / buy]

Mark Pringle – Book Of Haikus – 2019 [listen / buy]

Rachel Sermanni – So It Turns – 2019 [listen / buy]

Ancient Infinity Orchestra – Cosmosaic – 2019 [listen / buy]

Practically Married featuring João Lopes Pereira – Circus – 2018 [listen / buy]

Stemeseder/Banner/Alunni – WOOD / GUTS – 2018 [listen / buy – all proceeds to BLM UK]

Birgitta Flick Quartet – Color Studies – 2018 [listen / buy]

Liebesfilm – Directed by Emma Rosa Simon und Robert Bohrer [soundtrack] – 2018 [watch preview]

Salome – Directed by Ersan Mondtag [soundtrack] – 2018 [watch preview]

Mark Pringle – A Moveable Feast – 2014 [listen / buy]

Florian Weber, Anna Lena Schnabel, James Banner, James Maddren – Leipziger Jazztage 2018

PRESS

Interview with BBC Radio 3

Portrait by Deutschlandfunk Kultur [DE]

Interview with Jazzlines THSH

Portrait in Der Tagesspiegel [DE]

Portrait in Jazzaffine

Review of The Whitewashed Wall in Cleveland Classical

Interview with Make The Paint Dance (Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprise/UnLtd Do It Award Winner)

”a unique and surprising voice on his instrument… a gifted young composer…” – Greg Cohen

“James Banner’s USINE is 45 minutes of unobvious and unpredictable music” – Robert Ratajczak [LongPlay]

”idiosyncratic, „oblique“, intense and humorous” – Nicky Pawlow [Tagesspiegel Berlin]

“not everyone wants to pick a side… James Banner… revels in both the avant-garde and the swing… a musical balancing act”  – Martin Böttcher [Deutschlandfunk Kultur]

“If you can throw past preferences overboard, USINE rewards you with a unique sound experience” – Christian Kautz [LikeHiFi Magazine]

“English composer James Banner brings a playful setting of three Thomas Hardy poems. These tunes are light, manic, virtuosic, and full of twists and turns” – John Paul Mayse

“intense and dramatic… gentle and beautiful… characteristic of today’s contemporary jazz with the mixture of structure and freedom, full of drama and strong soloing…” – Tony Dudley-Evans

“By dividing The Whitewashed Wall into three distinct movements, James Banner gives the singer multiple opportunities to show off elements of her virtuosity. “Why does she turn…?” offers leaping contours and a climactic high note, while “Well, once…” imposes a strict, swift tempo onto the melody. “My brush goes one with a rush…”, frenetic and clearly meant to push the singer to the very upper limit of her range, comes off as a controlled detonation” – Cleveland Classical

Liz Kosack, James Banner, Cansu Tanrıkulu, Arne Braun, Elias Stemeseder, Philip Dornbusch – RBB Broadcast, November 2018

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