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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. His main project James Banner’s USINE has been described as “revelling in both avant-garde and swing”, “unobvious and unpredictable” as well as “intense and dramatic… gentle and beautiful… full of drama”, receiving support from the Berlin State, Initiative Musik and being profiled on Deutschlandfunk Kultur. As a composer he received the Elsa Neumann Stipendium in 2018 from the Berlin University of the Arts/HfM Hanns Eisler, supporting the improvising choir project Voices of Berlin (premiere 2021), interviewing residents of Berlin and reflecting their stories through music for improvising choir and ensemble. James has been featured in portraits and broadcasts by Der Tagesspiegel, RBB Kultur and Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and was selected to be a part of Making Music’s Adopt A Composer scheme 2018-2019, composing the collaborative piece Concertino For Concert Band broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in January 2020. He has also been collaborated with collectives such as Vanguard Manchester and The Arc Project, and has collaborated with New York based soprano Stephanie Lamprea on her project Unaccompanied- Tiny Works for Quarantine, which was premiered at Roulette, NYC in 2020.

James is also active as a collaborator and sideman in projects in the jazz and improvised music scenes of Berlin including The Birgitta Flick Quartet, Bruchgold und Koralle and Tilo Weber: Four Fauns, also regularly being selected to take part in collaborative projects further afield such as Fish and Chips at Leipziger Jazztage and Jazz Alloy at the Vortex, London. In demand as a performer across diverse genres and art forms, he has toured and recorded with artists such as singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni, worked with performance artist Paula Doepfner, Berlin-based art duo Quadrature for PODIUM Esslingen’s #BeBeethoven Festival, and as a soloist at James Turrell’s light-installation at the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof and at Ideas of Noise 2020, which commissioned the solo work Things my parents said about childhood.

James is currently working on recording unperformed solo pieces for double bass, researching and developing a publication (book and scores) on improvisational studies, a limited edition tape and digital solo release, as well as TEXTS, commissioning authors to create new works for the duo of Stephanie Lamprea/James Banner + guests from the Berlin/NYC improvised music scenes. He also co-curates the monthly residency Practically Married with pianist Declan Forde at Berlin’s Donau115, voted ‘one of Europe’s best jazz clubs’ by The Guardian, is a lecturer in improvisation and collaborative composition at Leeds Conservatoire and workshop leader for Make The Paint Dance and Jazzlines at Symphony Hall Birmingham.

IMG-20191016-WA0002
with Rachel Sermanni

CALENDAR

23.3. – Recording Max Andrzejewski’s MYTHOS for Berliner Ensemble

11.4. – Birgitta Flick Quartet – Steglitz, Berlin – postponed until late summer

16.4. – Tilo Weber Quartet: Four Fauns – Faun Renaissance Album Release

24.4. – Paul Santner/James Banner Duo – Video Release, Chess and Jazz Berlin

24.4. – 2.5. – Tilo Weber Quartet: Four Fauns – Faun Renaissance Tour

24.4. – Romanfabrik, Frankfurt [livestream]

25.4. – Unterfahrt, Munich [livestream]

29.4. – A Trane, Berlin [livestream]

1.5. – Jazzahead Showcase, Bremen [livestream 17:15 CET]

8.5. – 11.5 – Bruchgold und Koralle Album Recording – Low Swing Studio, Berlin

7.5. – Donau115, Berlin

8.5. – Saxstall, Pohrsdorf 

10.5.-12.5. – Album recording – Low Swing Studio, Berlin

November – concerts and recording commissioned by Outernational (concept+curation by Elisa Erkelenz) for Max Andrzejewski, w/Mariana Sadovska, baroque trio + electronics  – Radialsystem + Dresden

4.11. –  BACH Leuchtet! Solo improvisation w/Bach organ music + light installation – Ev. Lukas Kirche, Berlin

UPCOMING PREMIERES

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

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

April

Zygmund de Somogyi – Four Studies on the Subject of OMORI

Dominic Matthews – IX Cartoon Violence

Jamie Elless – Hospice (for six double basses)

May

Rachel Beckles Willson – piece for double bass + mixed media

Christian Cruz – Sketch

Ben Gaunt – Concealed/Classified 30 for James Banner

Ozzy Moysey – Undertones

Sean Quinn – Echophemera for James Banner

Summer/Autumn

Aidan Ramsay – The Salt Earth

Aline Homzy – TBC

Julia Mermelstein – Threaded To Be Bound / Unbound (for solo double bass + electronics)

Martin Loridan – Raining Waves

Paulo Espinoza Carrasco – Doce Palabras Redobladas13 miniatures to scare the devil, for solo double bass

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

RELEASES

UPCOMING

Tilo Weber Quartet: Four Fauns – Faun Renaissance – 16 April 2021 [listen / preorder]

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

Voices of Berlin – Live recording, Autumn/Winter 2021

PREVIOUS

James Banner’s USINE – 2018 [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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