Composer Christopher James’s upcoming album Grace from Persistence, his third as a solo artist, represents a synthesis of musical genres from jazz and pop to classical and film music, informed not only by his early experiences scoring for film and television, but also by his many years working with leading artists and on major soundtracks as an executive and producer for Universal Music Group. Mr. James’s music takes inspiration from the visual and the dramatic, and two of the ten tracks on this recording (“Grace from Persistence” and “Mother Russia”) feature accompanying video.
The album was recorded in April and August 2018 in Portland, OR and New York City, and features more than 30 musicians, including Mr. James on piano, the Catalyst Quartet, and members of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Oregon Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Talea Ensemble. Grace from Persistence is released by Val Gardena Music on Friday, April 5 and will be available via Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.
Tracks on the album range from a fantasy on a theme of Scriabin (“Mother Russia”) to a musical scenario blending the Chopinesque with a dramatic concept from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (“Where’s Frederick?”). Explaining some of the ideas behind Grace from Persistence, Mr. James said:
“My intention as always is to find a connection to people’s hearts and minds; to paint a musical picture with color and emotion; and, for better or worse, to unveil a discovery that is not a straight line from point A to point B. The title comes from an idea that my longtime collaborator Bob Stark suggested for one of the pieces on the album, and after I recently saw a film describing Native Americans beliefs about the Saguaro cactus, the title took on a new resonance for me. Each of these sacred Saguaros is considered to be a unique individual, surviving on its own despite nature’s extremes. Its state of grace is achieved through indefatigable determination to defy all odds, and the existence of this physical and spiritual icon serves as a metaphor for our persistence in the face of the world’s many challenges.”
Grace from Persistence was preceded by Mr. James’s solo albums House by the Railroad (2015) and The Sad Waltz (2017). House by the Railroad was inspired by his family history in Portland, OR, while The Sad Waltz is a collection of stylistically varied compositions written programmatically for an imagined visual environment. All three of Mr. James’s solo albums were created in collaboration with engineer, co-writer, and co-producer Bob Stark, and The Sad Waltz and Grace from Persistence were both mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Kevin Killen. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Mr. James has partnered with Jeff Leonard under the name Val Gardena since 1994, recording five albums together, including three releases on Mercury Records.
For more information, visit christopherjamesmusic.net.
Press release by Shuman Associates