The James Quintet was no more than 18 months ahead of its time — two years, tops — but that short gap was enough to doom this little known band from ever being recognized as one of the first Nu-Jazz/Acid Jazz acts out of the US. The New York City based group formed in early 1991 as a bi-weekly jazz jam band playing in small clubs in and around the metro area. They eventually landed an eight month long running gig playing every two weeks at the 55Bar in Greenwich Village. The original band lineup consisted of Bob Sharkey on guitar/electronics, Peter Dragotta on trumpet/electronics, Chris Dragotta on alto sax, Steve Decker on electric/acoustic bass and Claude Coleman Jr. on drums. The band had alternate and substitute members that included drummers Jason Wildman, Charles Ruggiero, and bassist Steve Watson. To many who first heard them, they sounded weird and alien. Yet, they were able to build a small following.
Heavily influenced by the music of Ornette Coleman; the band first started out playing eclectic interpretations and reconstructions of his music and traditional jazz standards, rarely following any chord structure while infusing a tapestry of jazz, rock and funk flavors. Some members of the band would describe their sound at the time as Electronic Free Jazz. Their sound and their focus evolved when band members Bob Sharkey, Peter Dragotta, and Steve Decker began contributing their own compositions. Bob and Peter also refined their use of electronics on their instruments.
As recognition and awareness of their unique sound was beginning to grow, The James Quintet dissolved in July of 1993. They never officially broke up. The original band members were all active with other bands and side projects that were taking off. Unfortunately their availability to play together was never in sync.
The band and some of their fans did manage to tape a few of their live performances. The band also recorded two studio sessions. All these tapes have recently been rediscovered and are being re-mastered and released to the public for the first time.
You can read more about the members of The James Quintet and discover the music they are producing today at the following links:
Bob Sharkey – http://www.bobsharkey.com/
Peter Dragotta - http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/pharmacopia/
Chris Dragotta - http://www.jteamjazz.com/
Steve Decker - http://www.shoutlife.com/profile_view.cfm?uid=7056
Claude Coleman Jr. - http://www.amandlanet.com/
Alternate and Substitute Band Members
Jason Wildman - http://www.jasonwildman.com/
Charles Ruggiero – http://www.myspace.com/charlesruggiero
Steve Watson - http://www.stevewatson.com/
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