James Ilgenfritz approaches the double bass as an archeologist, examining rarified aspects of the instrument’s sonic palette to confound the status quo. His work has been praised in Time Out New York, Signal To Noise, All About Jazz, and Downbeat Magazine. A tireless musical traveler, James has taken part in recent performances including work with Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, George Lewis, Elliott Sharp, John Zorn, Lukas Ligeti, Gary Lucas, Steve Swell, and Denman Maroney. He is a member of Billy Fox’s Blackbirds and Bullets, Eric Eigner’s Mysterium Project, Gordon Beeferman’s Imaginary Band, Chris Botta/Joe Branciforte’s The Cellar And Point, and Ted Hearne’s The Delusion Story.
Collaborative projects include Trio Caveat (improvisational salon jazz featuring Jonathan Moritz and Chris Welcome), Hypercolor (spastic jazz-inflicted art- rock noise fest with Lukas Ligeti and Eyal Maoz), and Urbana (cinematic jazz nostalgia and imaginings for quintet, with Evan Mazunik, John O’Brien, Frantz Loriot, and Bryan Pardo).
James’ own projects include Ensemble NSFW (contemporary chamber works dealing with the integration of traditional and graphic notation, indeterminacy, and improvisation), the Anagram Sextet (extended chamber works for 2 woodwinds, 2 guitars, and bass and percussion), and his solo developments of original music and that of various contemporary composers (including an upcoming recording of the music of Anthony Braxton).
James performs around New York at a wide variety of venues, focusing primarily on improvised music hubs Issue Project Room, Roulette, The Stone, Zebulon, Cornelia St Café, Barbes, I-Beam, and Douglass St Music Collective, but James has also performed music by Giacinto Scelsi and Ted Hearne at The Kitchen, music by John Cage at The World Financial Center Winter Garden, premiered new music for solo double bass at Symphony Space, and collaborated with beatboxer Adam Matta at the New Museum in SoHo.
Outside New York, James has performed at The Kennedy Center (Washington DC), The Empty Bottle, and Elastic Arts (Chicago, IL), the Museum of Making Music (San Diego, CA), 119 Gallery (Lowell, MA), The Windup Space (Baltimore, MD), and at festivals for improvised music including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the 14th Annual Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI), the New Atlantis Festival (Washington, DC), and the Spring Reverb Festival (San Diego, CA).
James is 2011 is Artist In Residence at Issue Project Room, and will present a variety of new chamber works, small ensemble projects, and premieres of solo works composed for him. James was a fellow at Music OMI international Musicians Residency in 2009. In 2007 James received a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum for a cross-country tour, performing newly commissioned works for contrabass by composers Jeffrey Treviño, Stephen Rush, and Gordon Beeferman, culminating in a performance at Roulette in New York. James also hosts the Ten Thousand Hours Podcast, which features conversations and duo improvisations with such artists as Robert Dick, Matana Roberts, Aaron Siegel, Andrew D’Angelo, and Pauline Oliveros.