Born: September 11, 1981 Primary Instrument: Vibraphone
Born in Houston, Texas, Westfall began his musical journey taking up the violin at age 6. At 14 and after several years studying classical piano and percussion, his grandfather restored an old vibraphone as a present to his grandson. It was then that he began to embark a lifelong goal of making music. While attending a specialized fine arts high school, he was able perform for such great artists as Dr. Billy Taylor and Wynton Marsalis. In addition to his jazz performances, he also experienced performing in other genres of music with artists such as Shania Twain and the Houston Symphony. Westfall soon became the recipient of numerous composition and performance scholarship awards from around the country, and decided to further his career in New Orleans, accepting a full scholarship to the University of New Orleans.
Since his arrival, Westfall studied under Terence Blanchard and Ellis Marsalis. Soon after, he was called to play with New Orleans finest such as Harold Battiste and David Torkanowsky along side with many others. This sideman experience soon pushed him to lead his own band which gave him the recognition to perform with Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center.
Today Westfall, a Thelonious Monk Institute Graduate, lives back home in New Orleans where he will be a home owner of the Habitat for Humanity's Musicians Village (sponsered by Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis.) He continues to perform all over the Country with the Wee Trio as they release their debut CD Capitol Diner Vol. 1.
James Westfall is endorsed by Pro-Mark Mallets
With all of the clone-like music in today’s jazz environment, it is nice to hear fresh and developing recordings like Independent. - Mark F. Turner All About Jazz
Independent proves that this band of musical mavericks has indeed arrived and is here to stay. - Geraldine Wyckoff Offbeat
His composition chops appear to float atop a deep well, and we can look forward to his next journey. - Andrea Canter The Jazz Police