who graduated from the University of Louisville, then played for the United
States Military Academy Band, and eventually landed in the Associate
Principal Flute chair with the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1969. He emigrated to L.A. and became the
Principal Flutist for the L.A. Philharmonic, where he stayed for seven
years, and even did a stint with the New York Philharmonic in 1982 when
they toured South America.
James longed to do was play jazz, and he left the Philharmonic to do just
that, forming a jazz ensemble entitled Free Flight in the
mid-‘80s. The group was
pretty successful, appearing regularly on The Tonight Show and topping the
charts with 1988’s Slice of
in L.A. afforded James the opportunity to play on hundreds of movie
soundtracks. Here is a small
sampling: Apollo 13, Batman Forever,
Clear and Present Danger, Dante’s Peak, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Forrest Gump, Ghostbusters, Home Alone,
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,
Jurassic Park, The Karate Kid, Lethal Weapon, Master and
Commander, National Treasure,
Out of Africa, Pirates of the Caribbean, Queen of the Damned, Real Genius, Schindler’s List, Toy
Story, Under the Tuscan Sun, Volcano, War of the Worlds, Yours,
Mine and Ours, and Zoolander.
of the artists he has worked with include Leonard Bernstein, James Galway,
Sir Paul McCartney, and Frank Sinatra.
copious free time, James passes along his accumulated wisdom to a new
generation of flautists: He has
taught at Arizona State University, Carnegie-Mellon, Duquesne University,
the University of Pittsburgh, the University of North Texas, and the
University of Texas in Austin.
He currently teaches at Colburn Conservatory and USC’s
Thornton School of Music, where he has the estimable title of Senior
Lecturer and Coordinator of Flute Studies. He has also added authorship to his
resume, as he is working on a series of flute-instruction books.
Rampal has cited James as his favourite