Born: September 19, 1960 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor
James Porter writes, plays and sings jazz songs: vehicles for jazz music-making, rather than self-standing songs with a set arrangement. A song is about meaning while jazz is about music-making (and rock about attitude). James Porter writes songs that are meant to be improvised on from the start, so that he hardly ever sings them as he wrote them, and his writing process focuses on the pleasure a musician would derive from improvising on them. He started learning the guitar when his sister dated a progrock guitarist back in the late seventies, playing by ear as much as from charts, writing down the music the piano or the guitar dictated. He quickly learned to appreciate jazz through the usual suspects -- Sinatra helped him make the transition. For many years he sang standards with his trio Jazz-Song and all but gave up on the guitar, as he found it so much easier to express himself through his voice. Personal and academic research led to a PhD dissertation on the musicians, socioeconomics and repertoire of New-York Cabaret (on www.jazz-song.org). Now in his early fifties and after raising a family, he is getting serious about his music-making, and The James Porter Songbook is hopefully only the first chapter in his new life.