From the moment James Weidman sits down at his magical keyboards, he commands your attention. With professional credits literally running the gamut of modern Jazz expression, it is no wonder that critics the world-wide have hailed the musicianship of James as refined, mysterious, earthy, powerful and downright mesmerizing.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, James started playing piano in the second grade. His father played saxophone and his mother sang in the church choir. James' father wanted his son to have a musical
education. Nurtured by a piano teacher, James diligently studied Classical music. However, it was playing his father's stored away 78 and LP Jazz recordings that really opened the window to his musical soul. Listening to Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, James began a love affair with Jazz.
Youngstown provided few gigs for a Jazz pianist so James played
different styles of music around the region while attending Youngstown State University. After graduating cum laude with a Bachelor in piano and music education, James relocated to New
York in 1978.
A well known sax player who worked with James told him that all he needed was musical seasoning and assured him that "as long as he had an electric piano and a car, he'd do quite
well in New York." In 1978 James went out in search of his
A host of musicians and vocalists began to seek James out, his special brand of delivering music began to spread and before too long the international tours piled up. He began a nine-year stint as pianist with vocalist Abbey Lincoln. Over the years
James had played with Woody Herman, Max Roach, Archie Shepp, James Moody, Greg Osby, Slide Hampton, Jay Hoggard, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Dakota Staton, and Gloria Lynne were just a few of the talents that James had mesmerized. From 1987 through 1992 James was the featured keyboardist for Steve Coleman and Five Elements, and the M-Base Collective. From 1991 to 1993 Cassandra Wilson used his rare depth and wide scope of playing and composing to help launch her most ambitious music. His ingenious compositions, with her lyrics, were featured on several recordings as well as international tours. James Weidman, pianist, composer, and arranger had found his "seasonings."
James Weidman has, for the last three years, been the pianist and Musical Director for famed vocalist Kevin Mahogany. Kevin not only utilizes James' arranging skills, compositions and performance magic, but they have forged a sound that is being touted as the reason that male vocalists' popularity has returned to Jazz. Critics have noted that the "sensitivity and level of play in this collaboration often brings the audience to the 'edge of the edge' waiting for the pin to drop."
James has also formed a most enticing ensemble with Randy Weston's saxophonist of choice, Talib Kibwe. Thus in 1992 through the phenomenal collective efforts of James Weidman and Talib Kibwe the quartet TAJA was born. TAJA has not only brought down houses in the United States and Europe, but is hitting the studio soon for a sequel to their debut CD, 'A Night In Birdland'. Kibwe's obvious influences of Caribbean and African sounds, combined with Weidman's strength in structure, and abandonment of structure, brings together a "sounds that breaks all barriers." James states that "the reason it works is simple...we write in a similar way, our music is very compatible and we both take chances." Now, James has added spices to his "seasonings." With the spring release of 'People Music', featuring his trio with Belden Bullock on bass, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums, the triumvirate of success for this dynamic music man seems complete.