James FranciesJames (* 1995 in Houston, TX) is a jazz pianist, keyboardist, composer, and arranger. He began having piano lessons at the age of five, and learning about jazz at junior high school. He went on to attend the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. He played at the church that his parents attended, and formed a jazz trio at the age of 14 that performed for three years. At high school, Francies was awarded a series of jazz scholarships to aid his musical development. These helped him obtain a full scholarship to study at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York.
While still a student in New York, Francies became a regular in drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts's band. Performances and tours with other leaders, including saxophonist Chris Potter and guitarist Pat Metheny, followed. James came to the attention of Questlove, who used him as a stand-in for his regular keyboardist, including for television appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. James roomed with pianist Aaron Parks for three years from 2015. Around 2016, he played on Watts's Blue, Vol. 2. James is also part of vibraphonist Stefon Harris's Blackout, and played on that band's Sonic Creed album.
James' debut recording as leader came after he signed for Blue Note Records. The album Flight was released in 2018. All but one of the eleven tracks were written or co-written by James; among the other musicians who appeared on the album were bassist Burniss Travis II and drummer Jeremy Dutton, from James' band Kinetic. In the same year, James was part of vocalist José James' band that played at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
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Modern Recordings 4050538693928
Pat Metheny, guitar, synthesizer
James Francies, organ, piano, synthesizer
Marcus Gilmore, drums
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