Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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James, Lance (Colan)

James, Lance (Colan), guitarist, pianist, African percussionist and educator; b. Chicoppee, Mass, Westover Air Force Base, 16 October 1951. His mom, Johnnye Mae Swilley James (b. 1925), was born in 1925, Bradenton, FL. His father, Lawrence James (1922-1970) was born in Dorchester, MA. His mother sung in church choirs but her sisters were professional night club and stage performers. Lance has 5 brothers and one sister:  Lawrence, b. 1950; Leighton, b. 1955; Lorraine, b. 1956; Leroy, b. 1957; Lindsay, b. 1960; Leonard, b. 1961. All born in Hartford, Connecticut. Lance has a daughter named Shenda (b.1974) and Shenda is married with two children, Sahara (b. 1990) and Micheal (2000) all were born in Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1969 Lance began his studies at Hartt College of Music receiving a full 4 year scholarship also received a Studio Engineering Certificate from Emerson College (Boston) and he is also a FCC licensed radio broadcaster.  Lance comes from a family of club owners.  His Uncle Bob Lewis owned a popular club in Hartford called "Subways" around in the late 50's and early 60's.  As a young kid his father would take him to see Horace Silver, Billy Eckstein, Clarke Terry, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and list goes on. Lance resides in Bloomfield, CT. At the tender age of 5, he began listening to a many types of music. His parents were advid music listeners and his mother came from a musical family of popular and gospel singers.  Classical music became his music of choice until he got to college and was exposed to many styles of music. Acid Jazz really interested Lance because it covered many styles in one composition.  Rock, r&b, classical and jazz music started to shape Lances' musical direction. Lance studied music with Jackie Mclean and theory with Joesph Iodine.  He studied jazz composition and bebop performance with Jackie McLean, Kalim Zarif at Hartt and Lance was one of Jackies' first students at his famed Artist Collective during the early seventies. Lance got into Afro/Caribbean music after traveling to Trinidad/Tobago as the Music Director for a well funded Connecticut state program called Multicultural Arts and Technology for students in the arts.  In 1997, he began teaching African drums to many students and help to establish a matriculated program in the New Britain, CT school system where African drumming is taught to elementary thru high school levels. He helped develop a jazz program at New Britain High which is now a matriculated program.  He has been a Resident Artist in the Farmington and New Britain school system since 1996. Lance lectures and started a program called "Drums of Freedom" which helps students maintain descipline and focus to increase their awareness of the beauty of life. Lance formed a group called the Lance James Project in 1998 and they continue to perform thruought the east coast.  LJP has shared the stage with Ray Charles, Sheila E., Jackie Mclean and many top flight musical groups. In 1994 Lance became the Musical Director for a group called "People of Goodwill".  Their performances were called "musical offerings" meaning the audience was much a part of each performance.  He left POG to form his own group the Lance James Project" in 1998. He has been a writing member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) since 1988.  Lance has managed recording artist Bernard Jackson to a successfull musical career at Sony Records and the band Clannad with Bertleman Music Group (BMG records) under his management company he formed in 1988. On guitar he has been compared to Jimi Hendrix and George Benson as far as his solos are concerned.  Lance tries to be very melodic and free flowing as a soloist.  He fashions his piano style after George Duke and Horace Silver.   Lance loves structuring chords and developing solos around the chord structures.

The Lance James Project members are Nick Longo (drums, percussion), George Sovak (tenor, alto, soprano sax), Dave Smith (bass), James Walker (vibes, steel pans, congas) and James (leader, piano, guitar, balaphones, percussion).

Follow The Leader (1995); Friends and Strangers (2000)

Where's Hartford theme song for Channel 5 (1996)

Hartford Courant, 2/2002, section B
The New Britain Herald, 2/2002, A3
The Advocate, 7/1996
The Inquirer, 6/1995

Contact information:
Pamela Burke 860.242.2759

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