James Banner was born in Dudley, England in 1991. In 2015, after studying in Birmingham and Paris, he moved to Berlin to study with Greg Cohen and John Hollenbeck at the Jazz Institut Berlin (UdK/Hanns Eisler), where he graduated from the Masters program in 2016. Now based between Berlin and the UK he performs and works around Europe as a musician, educator and composer.
He is composer in residence for Make The Paint Dance, a Cardiff based creative and social enterprise bringing music and art to new audiences in schools, creating collaborative compositions with Key Stage 1 and 2 students, as well as workshop leader for Jazzlines (Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham), leading jazz workshops for local musicians aged 11-19. As a composer he received a studio award from the Berlin Senate Department of Culture and Europe, the resulting recording being released in late 2018, and the Elsa Neumann Stipendium 2018 from the Berlin University of the Arts, which supports an ambitious project aiming to set the words of the people of Berlin for mixed choir and improvising ensemble. His recent compositions for strings, solo piano and chamber ensemble inspired by the folk music of Hungary received a review in the German national newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and performance at the Karneval der Kulturen.
He has collaborated and performed with Andreas Schmidt, Tobias Delius, Ugo Alunni, Allesandro Lanzoni, Kit Downes, Vilde&Inga, John Hollenbeck, Greg Cohen, Elias Stemeseder, Christian Lillinger, Jim Black, Declan Forde, Rachel Sermanni, Sebastian Gille, Clara Haberkamp, Hayden Chisholm, Max Andrzejewski, Julian Siegel, Jeff Williams, Ric Yarborough, Joe Wright, Liam Noble, Mark Sanders, John Taylor, Percy Pursglove, Andrew Bain, George Colligan, Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra and the Konzerthaus Publikumsorchestra. He also performs with the Birgitta Flick Quartet featuring Lina Nyberg, who completed a Goethe Institut funded tour of Sweden in 2016, being broadcast on Umeå Radio, and who will record a new album in 2018. The trio FROG with Fabiana Striffler and Declan Forde performed two sold out shows of the music of Duke Ellington’s music at the Berlin Konzerthaus and Spiegelsaal in 2017. The collaborative trio The Good Old Good Ones with Downbeat award-winning vocalist Mirna Bogdanovic received the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now scholarship in 2016. He has also completed two UK tours with the award-winning pianist Mark Pringle, with his project A Moveable Feast in 2015 and with the collaborative pan-European project Andersson/Pringle/Banner/Pereira in 2017, funded by Arts Council England.
He has performed at London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals, the BBC Proms, X- JAZZ festival, Jazzwoche Burghausen, Regensburg Jazzweekend and venues such as the Vortex, Southbank Centre, the Sage and Royal Albert Hall. In Berlin, he holds a monthly residency at Donau115 with the duo project Practically Married (with pianist Declan Forde).