A musician whose interests transcend the narrow limits of genre, James has applied his talents to projects as varied as composing a jazz suite on Northumbrian folk tunes, reworking Tallis for the Gabrieli Consort, and recreating the music of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker...
Born in 1989 in London to Irish-immigrant parents, James followed study at the Royal Academy of Music with an undergraduate degree in Music from the University of Cambridge (specialising in composition) and a Masters in Jazz Trumpet from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he wrote regularly for the Guildhall Jazz Band. Now active as a composer, arranger, music educator and multi-instrumentalist, he works across the jazz sector as well as leading groups including jazz/classical/world octet Waywiser and most recently his big band, whose 2017 Christmas launch show was described by London Jazz News as “the perfect blend of hip and nostalgia”.
2020 has been a year of new compositional ventures as well as reinvigorations of older material. Duo Dances (first set), James’ suite of miniatures for two violins, was premiered by Mainly Two at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, in January, and subsequently released by Turquoise Coconut Records (on the album Squirrels in Matchboxes), receiving plaudits such as “captivating and inventive compositions… an exceptional sense of beauty, imagination and fun” (Bradley Creswick, former concert master of Royal Opera House, Philharmonia and Royal Northern Sinfonia) and being featured in Spotify’s ‘New Classical Releases’ playlist. Forthcoming in July is the release of Vesperados, a 5-track EP of music inspired by Latin America, the music of Gerry Mulligan and featuring Alex Hitchcock on tenor saxophone.
2020 has also brought new collaborations: with Colombian-American soprano Stephanie Lamprea, with UK bassist Rex Horan, and a forthcoming mixed-media composition composed in collaboration with Matthew Hardy and members of East London Community Band. In 2021, James looks forward to the debut of Dunt for SSAATTBB choir by ECHO Choir, highly commended in their composition competition in 2019.
In 2018 James premiered a new suite for jazz orchestra at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival, commissioned by the Sage Gateshead and PRS Foundation for youth jazz ensemble Jambone, as well as debuting new works for combined jazz and string quartet at Union Chapel, London.
Composing and arranging credits include performances at the Barbican, Vortex, Cecil Sharp House, Milton Court, the Forge, Spice of Life, West Road, Royal Academy of Music, Phonox, Wilderness Festival, London Jazz Festival and Cambridge Jazz Festival. He has worked with artists including Liane Carroll (“a classy arrangement of Dublin Morning” – London Jazz News), Kate Nash (“a properly stirring experience” – The Guardian), Laura Mvula, Will Young, Laurence Cottle, experimental classical group The Hermes Experiment and youth chamber orchestra Britten Sinfonia Academy. His compositions and arrangements have been published by Sheet Music Plus and Kevin Bell Music and have been awarded prizes including the 2018 Eddie Harvey Award for Jazz Arranging, and runner up in the 2017 Dankworth Prize in the big band composition category. In 2020, James was selected by the Ivors Academy for a profile on UK jazz composers, featuring his piece DARKMANS. As well as writing for traditional big bands and small jazz line-ups, he has also written extensively for orchestra and last year arranged 18 pieces by David Bowie for 8-part choir and 4- piece band for shows promoted by the Jazz Cafe.
A highly-accomplished jazz trumpeter, James has performed at many top jazz venues including the Pizza Express Jazz Club, the Vortex, the Casa del Jazz in Rome and at the London, Montreux and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals. In 2017 James was invited to take part in the 3rd Jazz Directors series tour with Zoe Rahman, appearing at venues across the North West including Band on the Wall. in 2018, James teamed up with vocalist and pianist Robin Phillips to debut a new Chet Baker tribute, which received a 5-star review from influential jazz blog kindofjazz.com, including the comment "this tune featured a blistering solo by the young trumpet player, James Brady, who impressed throughout." 2018 also saw James tour Nanjing province, China, with UK neo-soul artist Ollie Lepage Dean and his band Mode9, performing on both trumpet and synthesiser. James also plays percussion, and has recently added trombone to his arsenal of instruments.
James is also in demand as an arranger and music copyist, providing these services to some of the UK's top music organisations including the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall, Gabrieli Consort, London Chamber Orchestra and Triborough Hub. With his broad and deep musical training, he's able to work on pieces ranging from early opera (Purcell's King Arthur, Wigmore Hall 2016) right up to new commissions for symphony orchestras and choirs (Charlotte Harding's Ivor Novello-winning Convo, Royal Albert Hall 2019). James was Music Copyist for the RPS Award-winning Seven Seeds by John Barber, performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015 and featuring over 800 musicians.
With a long-term commitment to music education, James is currently Director of Jazz at East London Community Band, and teaches brass instruments, music theory and composition to students at Hockerill Anglo-European College, Bedford Girls’ School and privately. In 2018, James completed a PGCert in Performance Teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with distinction, focusing on inclusive learning pathways. James’ commitment to involving people at all stages of musical development has more recently begun to shape his compositional output more, and he looks forward to taking this further in future.