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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 (1991) was born in Dudley, England and is now based in Berlin and the UK, working as an improvising musician and composer. Current projects include: USINE with Cansu Tanrıkulu, Max Andrzejewski and Declan Forde; commissioning, workshopping and recording new solo pieces for double bass and presenting his solo programme; Borage with Megan Jowett; a Machair Duo with Stephanie Lamprea focusing on commissioning and developing electro-acoustic works in collaboration with composers, including TEXTS, which has commissioned 6 international authors to create new works for the duo plus guests Anna Webber, Liz Kosack, Nick Dunston and Michaël Attias. He also co-curates the bi-monthly improvised music residency Practically Married with pianist Declan Forde at Berlin’s Donau115.

In 2022, he will commission Nick Dunston, Yaz Lancaster and Jamie Elless to develop and document collaborative solo pieces, premiere new works with Stephanie Lamprea in a UK tour, create a book and digital release as part of TEXTS, release and tour the second album how it will be after by USINE (KLAENG Records), debut album by improvising string duo Borage with Megan Jowett (WismART Records), the debut duo album by Practically Married, appear on new albums by Bruchgold und Koralle, Tilo Weber (Five Fauns), Birgitta Flick Quartet, Max Andrzejewski (Mythos), tour Outernational’s Songs of Wounding with Mariana Sadovska and Ext Inc/Remember Me with Aida Shirazi/Emre Dündar, as well as being part of new projects in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie (Chor Zur Welt) and in Kammermusikfestival Regensburg (Akademie Theater Regensburg) with Max Andrzejewski. In Autumn/Winter, James will also premiere class-work, exploring the intergenerational meaning and relevance of social class, commissioned for the 46th edition of Leipziger Jazztage, as well as tour his solo programme to Berlin, Salzburg, Paris and Lisbon.

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), Outernational (Songs of Wounding with Mariana Sadovska + Ext Inc/Remember Me with Aida Shirazi/Emre Dündar), Tempus Konnex Ensemble (IMPULS 2021), Leipziger Jazztage (Fish and Chips with Anna-Lena Schnabel, Floria Weber, James Maddren, The Floor Is Lava! by Nick Dunston), Musikcentrum Öst Stockholm (Jazz Alloy with Lina Nyberg, Laura Jurd, Daniel Karlsson), Making Music/Sound and Music/PRSF/BBC (Adopt A Composer), soundfestival Aberdeen, Centrala Birmingham (Art and Brexit Talk), Vanguard Manchester/The Arc Project (composition collaborations), Rachel Sermanni (So It Turns recording, UK tour), Vilde&Inga (Berlin Tour w/John Hollenbeck, Toby Delius, Declan Forde) and Stephanie Lamprea (Tiny-works). He performs as a sideperson with Birgitta Flick (Quartet/Septet), Jörg Hochapfel (Bruchgold und Koralle) and Tilo Weber (Four Fauns and Five 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, and engaging in workshops in higher education institutions. He released his debut solo album digitally and on limited edition cassette in March 2022, which was featured on SWR2, and which will tour in winter 2022, with dates in Berlin, Paris and Lisbon.

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. He is a workshop facilitator with Make The Paint Dance and visiting lecturer in double and electric bass for actor musicians at Leeds Conservatoire.

“…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

CALENDAR

202

26.10. – Practically Married #38 with Megan Jowett + Toby Delius – Donau115, Berlin

16.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – Donau115, Berlin

17.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – Holzmarkt, Berlin

20.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin [with Birgitta Flick]

21.11. – James Banner solo – Les Impairs du Lundi @ Studio Caracol, Paris, France

22.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – ESMAE Jazz, Porto

23.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – World of Wine, Porto

24.-26.11. – Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – Hot Club de Portugal, Lisbon

1.-3.12. – album recording with Rachel Sermanni

2.12. – James Banner: USINE how it will be after album release on KLAENG Records

12.12. – James Banner: USINE – Open Music, Graz

13.12. – James Banner: USINE – Jazz+ at Seidelvilla, Munich

14.12. – James Banner: USINE – LOFT, Cologne

16.12. – Practically Married #39 – Donau115, Berlin

18.12. – PILED UP by Tanrıkulu – Serious Series, Berlin

22.12. – Ext Inc / Remember Me (Outernational) – Radialsystem, Berlin

2023

25.1. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – A Trane, Berlin

26.1. – James Banner: solo – Donau115, Berlin

27.1. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – TBC, Graz

16.2. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Friedrichshafen

17.2. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Calw

18.2. – Tilo Weber and Four Fauns – TBC, Neustrelitz

23.2. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – Musikinstrumenten Museum, Berlin

1.3. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Hamburg

14.4. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – CVJM

21.4. Birgitta Flick Quartet – Jazz am Helmholtzplatz, Berlin

22.4. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – Bunker, Ulmenwall

28.4. – Ext Inc / Remember Me (Outernational) – European Centre of the Arts, Hellerau

17.5. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Kiel

20.5. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Offenbach

21.5. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – Dumont, Aachen

15.9. – Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – TBC, Altenburg

October – Premiere of 24 Hokku on a Modern Theme – written for Machair Duo by Sergi Puig Serna – Graz + Barcelona

PREMIERES

as performer

An den Rändern der Risse… in der Lücke das Grün – Max Andrzejewski – Heart Club Regensburg – 17.9.2022.

new commissions for solo bass by Nick Dunston, Yaz Lancaster and Jamie Elless – TBC 2023

as composer/performer

anti-dirge for chamber orchestra and improvising soloist (London Chamber Orchestra) – 23.9.2022. – St John’s Smith Square, London

class-work – 25.10.2022. – Leipziger Jazztage

RELEASES

UPCOMING

TEXTS with Stephanie Lamprea (with guests Nick Dunston, Liz Kosack, Anna Webber, Michaël Attias) – 2023 [listen / preorder]

James Banner: USINE – how it will be after – 2.12.2022 (KLAENG Records) [listen / preorder]

class-work – 2023

Borage (Megan Jowett / James Banner) – transitory – 2023 (WismART Records)

Duos for voice with gamba, percussion and bass – 2023

Bruchgold und Koralle – 2023

Tilo Weber and Five Fauns – 2023 (Malletmuse)

DISCOGRAPHY

Practically Married + João Lopes Pereira – ao Vivo no Café Dias – 2022 (Robalo Music) [listen/buy]

James Banner – solo – 2022 (self-release) [listen/buy]

Max Andrzejewski – Mythos – 2022 (Backlash Music) [listen/buy]

Birgitta Flick Quartet – Miniatures and Fragments – 2022 (Doublemoon/Challenge) [listen/buy]

Meschiya Lake & The New Movement – Looking The World Over – 2022 (Sungroove Records) [listen/buy]

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

Alex Roth’s MultiTraction Orchestra – Emerge Entangled – 2020 (self-release) [listen / buy]

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

Practically Married with Will Howard and Jordan Dinsdale – Short Step – 2020 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Practically Married – Inventions In Time Vol. 1 – 2020 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Practically Married – Inventions In Time Vol. 2 – 2020 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Mark Pringle – Book Of Haikus – 2019 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Rachel Sermanni – So It Turns – 2019 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Ancient Infinity Orchestra – Cosmosaic – 2019 (Polyscope) [listen / buy]

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

Practically Married featuring João Lopes Pereira – Circus – 2018 (self-release) [listen / buy]

Stemeseder/Banner/Alunni – WOOD / GUTS – 2018 (self-release) [listen / buy – all proceeds to BLM UK]

Birgitta Flick Quartet – Color Studies – 2018 (Doublemoon/Challenge) [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 (Stoney Lane) [listen / buy]

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

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