Singer and multi-instrumentalist James Zeller has performed with jazz legends including Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, and The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Over the last decade, his trio has captivated hundreds of audiences, playing the best of 1920’s-50’s jazz, vintage country, Americana, and early rock and roll. From Satchmo to Sinatra to the Beatles and more, their world-class interpretations of loved classics make them a favorite at parties, weddings, and events.
Founded in New York City, The James Zeller Trio has played famed venues including The Rainbow Room, The Waldorf Astoria, and Lincoln Center. Since Zeller’s move to California in 2017, his trio continues to delight audiences up and down the coast, including events at San Francisco’s Julia Morgan Ballroom, The Presidio Social Club, and the historic Villa Montalvo.
James leads ensembles of any configuration, ranging from solo performances of vocal and guitar/piano to a full band. Whatever the size or setting, from New York to California, James Zeller is known for his professionalism, his charming vocals, and his spirited, heartwarming music. If you’re looking for live entertainment that will enchant any audience, look no further!
The Story Of The James Zeller Trio
The story of James Zeller’s becoming a bandleader is the story of a life long love of music, and of songs. His Mom taught him piano from a young age, and he began playing trombone at the age of twelve. As a teenager he performed in clubs and venues around his hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Recordings of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong checked out from the public library were an early inspiration for his singing, and a love of songs was also inherited from his Dad, who introduced him to Willie Nelson, Paul Simon and other storytelling songwriters. In the late summer of 2000, Zeller relocated to NYC, attended the New School, and worked for ten years with his main profession freelance trombone playing, while also leading bands on the side whenever possible.
In his time freelancing he performed professionally with: The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, Slide Hampton, Joe Chambers, The Jimmy Heath Orchestra, and Charli Persip to name a few. He has been a member of legendary drummer Billy Kaye’s Quintet and cornetist Don Hahn's Sextet. He has performed at the finest Jazz venues in NYC (and a few others) such as: The Village Vanguard, The Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Smalls, Fat Cat, Dizzy's Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and concert halls like Flushing Town Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fischer Hall. He was a member of the house band at The Rainbow Room from 2006-2009.
In between touring and playing swing dances with old-time Jazz groups such as The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn and Baby Soda Jazz from 2010 to 2012, James began to have success leading his own groups in a similar style. Blue Vipers vocalist Billy Nemec was an inspiration and an example of how to lead a band, in business and performance.
James formed a partnership with Pat Brennan, a fantastic NYC based Jazz guitarist in 2012. Though both formally educated in music and with long professional resumes, they began working together as buskers in Central Park in 2010 and through hard work and dedication eventually found themselves performing regularly at the finest establishments in New York. The demands of busking forced them to develop a style and repertoire of music that would entice passers-by to stop and linger. As a performer James has never lost that uncanny ability to draw a crowd.
The Trio's spent 2012-2107 performing for weddings, parties and special events, as well as a Friday night residency at the elegant ‘Bar Pleiades’, part of Café Boulud. Their repertoire grew to over 500 songs and they performed at many of New York City's finest establishments: The Wythe Hotel, The Strand Hotel, City Winery, The Lambs Club, Manhattan Penthouse, The James Burden Mansion, The St. Regis Hotel, DB Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, Rouge Tomate, Thalassa Restaurant to name a few.
Zeller performs with his trio as well as larger bands, and travels often with Daniel Nickerson, playing all kinds of events and venues. They are based out of Arcata, CA, but really anywhere the two are playing music, as a duo or with their peers, is called home.