Bassist Andre St. James is a cornerstone of the rich, thriving Pacific Northwest jazz scene and works regularly with his own quintet, the Andre St. James/Roger Woods Nonet, Mel Brown Septet. One of the best-known and most respected figures of Portland’s jazz scene, St. James currently teaches at Reed College and Bravo Youth Orchestra(Teaching Artist) and was a faculty member of the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz from 1989 to 2004.Western Oregon State College 2008 to 2012.
Over the last three decades, St. James has worked with an astonishing who’s who of modern jazz including giants like Sonny Rollins, the Harold Land-Blue Mitchell Quintet, Andrew Hill trio and large bands, Bobby Hutcherson, Charlie Rouse, Joe Pass, Kai Winding ,Herb Ellis James Moody, Nancy King, and George Cables Houston person, Mike Wofford Julie Silvano, Andrea Wolper. St. James’ strong sense of lyricism, buoyancy and surging momentum, as well as a deep respect for both tradition and innovation, have taken him to both ends of the jazz spectrum-from bop and beyond. He has enjoyed freewheeling, open-ended avant-garde, like Julius Hemphill, Marty Ehrlich, Eugene Chadbourne, Michael White, India Cooke, Kash Killion, Mal Waldron, and Sun Ra, Geo Sams, Pharoah Sanders, Alan Shorter, Roscoe Mitchell, Vinnie Golia, Reed Wallsmith, Tim DuRoche Thollem McDonas Noah Bernstein, John Gross Burton Greene, Dana Reason Billy Hart, Juini Booth Mark Levine, Ezra Weiss, Farnell Newton Gordon Lee Renato Caranto David Ornette Cherry, to name a handful.
St. James grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, graduating from Berkeley High School in 1968. Originally inspired by bassist Ortiz Walton, classical bassist with the Boston Symphony, with whom he studied for three years, St. James as a young artist embraced the innovations and solid grounding of such influential players as Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton, Paul Chambers, George Tucker, George Duvivier, Albert Stinson, Eddie Khan, Henry Grimes, Peter Kowald and Jimmy Garrison. Two years at Laney College in Oakland and studies with Alvo D’Amante, Ed Kelly and Thomas Hiddon, and two years at the New College in San Francisco yielded a degree in Composition and Performance, a minor in modern dance and entrée to the thriving Bay Area jazz scene of the ’70s and stints with David Murray- Butch Morris Quintet, Eddie Moore, Prince Lasha, Dewey Redman, Idris Ackamoor, and the great Ed Kelly, Smiley Winters among others.
All about camaraderie and community, St. James has a certain birds-of-a-feather impulse that has lead him into duos, trios, and larger ensembles in the company of other restlessly inventive bassists, including Juini Booth, Peter Barshay, Wilber Morris, Robert Miranda, Ed Kelly, Glen Moore, and Michael Bisio among others.