Double Double Bass with Greg Cohen


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”, and has received support from both the Berlin State and Initiative Musik. 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 commissioned by Vanguard Manchester, 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 active as a co-leader and sideman in projects in the jazz and improvised music scenes of Berlin including The Birgitta Flick Quartet 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.

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 implementing a programme commissioning authors to create texts for the duo of Stephanie Lamprea/James Banner + guests from the Berlin improvised music scene. 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 visiting lecturer in improvisation and collaborative composition at Leeds Conservatoire and workshop leader for Make The Paint Dance and Jazzlines at Symphony Hall Birmingham.


with Rachel Sermanni



22.10. – Max Andrzejewski’s HÜTTE play Robert Wyatt – Jazz and Wine of Peace Festival, Italy

22.10. – World Premiere of The Whitewashed Wall (commissioned and performed by Stephanie Lamprea) – Roulette, Brooklyn WATCH ONLINE/TICKETS

28.10. – String Quartet: Borage [Fabiana Striffler/Julia Biłat/Megan Jowett/James Banner] – Donau115, Berlin  POSTPONED TILL 2021

28.10. – Michaël Attias/Santiago Leibson/James Banner/Fermín Merlo – Donau115, Berlin

29.10. – Bruchgold und Koralle – Jazz in E, Eberswalde

30.10. – The Music of Herbie Nichols [Toby Delius/Declan Forde/James Banner/Max Andrzejewski] – Industriesalon Schöneweide, Berlin

01.12. – James Banner’s USINE – JAB Series at A Trane, Berlin [Broadcast by RBB]

06.12. – Open Improvisations: Online Edition [Livestream 20:30 CET/19:30 GMT]


16.04. – 01.05. – Tilo Weber Quartet: Faun Renaissance Tour

29.04. – A Trane, Berlin // 01.05. – Jazzahead Showcase, Bremen // more TBC

04.05. – 12.05 – Bruchgold und Koralle Tour

08.05. – Saxstall, Pohrsdorf // more TBC

17.05. – 30.05. – James Banner’s USINE Tour


An August Midnight – solo harp/soprano – TBC

Trio and Piece for Solo Bb Clarinet – for Vanguard Manchester – TBC

Two Movements for Three guitars – for The Arc Project Digital Edition  ->

Strange Beast – composed by Desmond Clarke – >

Voices of Berlin – improvising choir/small ensemble – Autumn 2021


James Banner’s USINE




Tilo Weber Quartet – Faun Renaissance – April 2021 [listen / preorder]

Stephanie Lamprea – Unaccompanied: Tiny-Works For Quarantine – Vol 4 – soon!

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 + 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]

James Banner’s USINE – 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



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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