From -- Roy Sander, Critic and Columnist (formerly of Back Stage and Citysearch). on James' music:
"On stage, James Hammel is at once completely natural and artfully focused, a rare combination. He gets to the core of each song with easy grace and understated eloquence."
Fans of James' vocal sound, style, and interpretation say his voice captures Sting's sensitivity, the class and touch of Michael Buble, the cleverness of Michael Franks, the innocence of Chet Baker, and the playfulness of John Pizzarelli.
James retains a passion for singing and playing guitar that spans decades. In his hometown of Bridgeport Connecticut, James met Jazz Great Sal Salvador-who introduced him to jazz guitar. Sal ultimately challenged James that he belonged in the world of music, and that one day he would be compelled to embrace it completely. For most of his adult life, James considered those words wishful thinking and his music remained on the sidelines. Instead he took a 20-year detour which led to James building and leading many companies, both large and small. But, all the while, he also continued his focus on standards and jazz songs - creating his own fresh and eclectic arrangements of these songs. He added an attractive mix of pop, blues, and rocks songs. He also evolved his songwriting skills and has recorded award-winning songs.
In 2001, he found himself positioned at the top of the corporate ladder - looking off the edge. However, 9/11 was to be his catalyst for personal change, as it was for many other people. The events and subsequent economic fallout resulted in James losing two-thirds of his company's customers overnight and closing his offices overlooking the Trade Towers. He was actually landing in Newark at the same moment the towers were hit. His flight was rerouted to Buffalo and it was during that 9 hour drive back to NYC that he remembered what Sal told him, - which he never believed as a CEO: that he would someday return to music…Sal was right. James knew that when the necktie started feeling like a noose, it was time to change. Never having forgotten Sal’s words, he took a dramatic and courageous leap back into songwriting, arranging, recording and performing. This lifted James to an unprecedented new focus on music and bringing joy to others. Today, this joy and affirmation are the foundation for his songwriting and performing. He is fulfilling his destiny.
James lives in the Asheville, NC area and performs locally and still occasionally at clubs and private events in New York City and beyond. His first full-length CD, Do It All Over Again, has done well garnering a Top 400 Billboard song and getting play time with jazz standards on airlines. James is the the process of releasing new original songs as part of a project that has included great local musicians and audio production.
In addition to being well received as a solo performer at private parties, James has performed with his band in New York City at venues such as The Metropolitan Room, CBGB's Gallery, The Bitter End, and even the US Open Tennis Championships. In North Carolina, he regiularly performs at Biltmore Estate, Omni Grove Park Inn, as well as a host of breweries, restaurants and private events.
James' music is characterized as being highly charged (both the up-tempo songs and the ballads have drive). His voice brings forth a boyish sense of charm and innocence - while still giving James the ability to transition from being a crooner to displaying a full jazz/pop/rock/blues sound.
Producing James' Music
Here's what James' producer had to say.
"What a wonderful ride it was to work with James on: Do It All Over Again. Like his own adventurous leap from being CEO to singer/songwriter/musician, this aptly titled CD brings to life the same twists to convention and sense of freedom. It was a very personal project for James and an exhilarating artistic one for me. Whether it's the unexpected Latin undercurrent he lends to Kern and Field’s The Way You Look Tonight, or his combo of teasing vocals and jazzy licks on his L-5 guitar on Bobby Troup’s Route 66, the playful twists keep on coming. Sting’s (The Police) Every Breath You Take was a personal inspiration, with James’ haunting, lush arrangement, and innovative guitar layerings. We also had to include a sexy, undulating version of Michael Franks’ Down In Brazil. Finally, there are James’ original songs including the powered-up title track, Do It All Over Again, and his love songs, Why Do I Dream and Anything, Any Day Anytime. It’s here where his boyish wonder and optimism shine through. Working with a bona fied triple-threat who is equally impressive at crooning, playing, and writing makes this a very special debut. I continue to be inspired by James’ boundless musical energy. There is much more to come. "
Gennaro Tedesco, Producer, NGEN Productions.
James Hammel (vocals and guitars) performs solo or with his band which may include piano, bass, drums, percussion, brass, and other vocalists. Depending on the event and venue, James may perform solo or with up to 8 musicians. Please visit http://www.jameshammel.com/music to see video and hear audio.
James first full-length CD, Do It All Over Again, has proven a platform for musical growth and performing. Clips of these track and videos of live performances are available here and at http://www.jameshammel.com/music.
“James Hammel really connects on his new release 'Do It All Over Again.' Nice choice of jazz standards, pop standards, and his originals… all featuring his masterful, yet effortless sounding, guitar work. It’s smooth, but with plenty of meat on its bones. We love it at KUMD!!” —John Zeigler, KUMD, Duluth, MN
From Trinny Ferrazzy, Fashion Show Director, on James' music:
"He's a crooner with sexy and undulating style that made him a perfect match for our Brazilian fashion and jewelry show at PM. His self-arranged interpretations of Jazz standards recall John Pizzarelli's energy, Chet Baker's charm, Jobim’s (and a little of Kenny Rankin's) smoothness, and Michael Franks' playfulness. His originals surprise with classic appeal, and sit well within the framework of the more familiar tunes. He endears and intrigues both musically and visually, lending an elegance in a rare package that is richly musical and compelling."
For more information about James and his music visit the Music page.
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