Look for the release of vibraphonist James Westfall's Independent, his debut record. The musicians featured on this recording were hand picked by Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Ron Carter, creating the 2004-2005 Thelonious Monk Institute. This group toured and performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Kenny Garrett, Clark Terry, Kenny Barron, and Jimmy Heath. They studied as a group under Terence Blanchard, Jack DeJohnette, Horace Silver, and Charlie Haden, to name a few. Through the enriching experience of working, studying, living together in downtown Los Angeles, performing, and touring, they developed an eclectic group sound. Vibraphonist James Westfall gathered his fellow Thelonious Monk Institute musicians, Baltimore's own trumpeter and rapper Dontae Winslow , Israeli saxophonist Gilad Ronen , Hungarian pianist Tzumo Arpad Olah , Houston bassist Alan Hampton , and New Orleans native James Alsanders on drums, to document this once in a lifetime band recording original compositions by James Westfall.
Born in Houston, Texas, James 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 in Houston, 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 the birthplace of jazz music, New Orleans, accepting a full scholarship to the University of New Orleans.
Since his arrival to the Big Easy, Westfall studied under jazz great Terence Blanchard . Soon after, he was called to play with New Orleans finest artists such as Ellis Marsalis and Harold Battiste along side with many others. Within a few years he had performed in all the hot clubs and jazz festivals in the New Orleans and southern region. This sideman experience soon pushed him to lead his own band which gave him the national recognition to perform with Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center and record the music to major television commercials.
Years later, Westfall resided in Los Angeles where he was one of six musicians chosen by Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Terence Blanchard to participate in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz; being the first vibraphonist to have ever been accepted. This program is a two-year residency of performances and teaching master classes. Since his joining of the band, he has performed with artists such as Herbie Hancock , Wayne Shorter , Clark Terry , Dianne Reeves , and Kenny Garrett . He has also performed at such noted events as Tokyo Jazz Festival, UNESCO (Paris, Fr), Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Blues Alley, The Blue Note in New York, and a weekly gig at the House of Blues (Los Angeles).
Today, you can find Westfall living in New York continuing to make a name for himself. He has recently been working with his own bands, The James Westfall Quintet, "The Bionic Mvt.", and occasionally performing with the Terri Lyne Carrington Quintet and Harold Battiste/Jesse McBride presents The Next Generation at venues such as Dizzy's Coca Cola Club, Fat Cat, Sweet Rhythm, Cornelia Street Cafe, and Kavehaz.
James Westfall is endorsed by Pro-Mark Mallets