The James Zeller Trio is a genre-crossing trio, defying categorization with their fantastic repertoire of high energy 1920’s-30’s Jazz and swing, Cool Jazz, Blues, R&B, New Orleans and Trad Jazz, Vintage Country and Americana. The Trio splits it's time performing in the Bay area, living in Humboldt County, and traveling the west coast. Zeller performed professionally in NYC for 17 years, and lead a highly successful trio that was the house band at the famous Manhattan upper east side club "Bar Pleiades".
James Zeller delivers lead vocals in a unique, heartfelt style, plays tasteful trombone solos and rhythm guitar, Daniel Nickerson flows seamlessly between rhythm, lead and riffs on resonator guitar and Lee Phillips provides the foundation on upright bass. Though the trio can perform for almost any event, they sometimes add member to become anywhere from to 8 piece band. Zeller and Nickerson also perform regularly as a duo.
Their music is the perfect addition for community events, festivals, concerts, clubs, restaurants, weddings, cocktail parties, business parties and anything with the word "party" in it! Every performance is filled with songs audiences know and love!
They take pride in their work as musicians and entertainers. Beyond their musical ability onstage, they are classy, professional, experienced in the music business, punctual, well dressed and easy to work with.
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.