James Westfall is a multi-genre instrumentalist, composer, and arranger living and working in Nashville. He performs most regularly on keyboards, piano and mallet percussion.
Though Westfall now performs, records, and composes in contemporary commercial music styles, his background is in jazz – where he spent fourteen years living and working in the lush music scene in New Orleans. While living in New Orleans he attended The University of New Orleans where he was able to perform and be mentored under Harold Battiste, Ellis Marsalis, and Steve Masakowski.
One of James’ first honors in the jazz world was when he was invited to participate in the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. In 2003 James was accepted as the first vibraphonist in the history of The Thelonious Monk Institute. While attending the Monk Institute he was able to perform at venues like Tokyo Jazz Festival, Blue Note, and Blues Alley with artists such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, and Clark Terry.
In 2007 Westfall formed ‘The Wee Trio’ while living in New York. This collaborative band continues to perform across the country at high caliber venues like The Green Mill, Jazz at the Bistro, and Yoshi’s as well as major festivals including The New Orleans & Heritage Jazz Festival, Discover Jazz Festival, and Rochester Jazz Festival, and have taken up artist residency at several Universities. The Boston Globe declared their first album, Capitol Diner Vol. 1, to be a “winning debut.” Westfall also released Independent, his own record around this time – Jazztimes quoted it as being “uplifting and distinctive.” Around this time he was also was able to gain sideman experience performing with artists such as Nicholas Payton, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Ellis, and Gretchen Parlato.
Westfall prides himself on continuing the tradition of breaking tradition. Whether he is performing with The Wee Trio or his solo projects, “Westfall continues to incorporate elements of rock and hip-hop.” – Jazztimes. As well as a performer, Westfall is also a music educator. From 2011-2014 he was employed as an adjunct professor at The University of Southern Mississippi teaching piano and vibraphone. He was also employed by the Thelonious Monk Institute to teach the “Thelonious Monk Combo” working with high school students at NOCCA.
Today Westfall resides in Nashville, TN working as a keyboardist and mallet percussionist in several genres of music. Most recently he has performed with BJ Thomas, Steelism, and Pat Coil.