James Waterman is a multifaceted percussionist, composer, and teaching artist based in Los Angeles. James is devoted to the exploration of all areas of percussion and has extensively studied Western Classical solo repertoire, orchestral percussion, Middle Eastern drumming, Trinidadian Steel Drums, jazz vibraphone, latin percussion, drum set, Indian tabla and tala systems, and Brazilian percussion. He also traveled to Ghana where he studied West African drumming and performed as a lead drummer at the Dagbe Cultural Institute and Arts Centre.
James has performed as a percussionist in television and radio on Los Angeles’s KPFK 90.6 FM, PBS SoCal's LA County Holiday Celebration at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and NBC’s Today Show. He has played with a wide variety of ensembles and artists including four larks, Randy Gloss, Houman Pourmehdi, Alessandra Belloni, SK Kakraba Band, Volta Drum and Dance, and Zadonu African Music and Dance Company. James has performed at such venues as SFJAZZ, PASIC, The Getty Villa, REDCAT, The Joshua Tree Music Festival, The Blue Whale, and the NAMM Show.
James’s original compositions span from the stage to the screen, and include the original score for Sharine Atif's award-winning film Jebel Banat (Festival de Cannes and Tribeca Film Festival). He was also commissioned by the dance company DANCE AEGIS to compose original music for Kennesaw State University's performance of choreographer Andrea Gise's Unearthing. James has also composed original works for the fusion ensemble Dhara, which have debuted at SFJAZZ, Joshua Tree Music Festival, and The Blue Whale. James also composed and recorded original music for Sharine Atif’s film Getting Divorced, and Aphton Corbin’s animations The Deep End and Ajani the Brave.
James is an active performer of new music. James was a featured percussionist on the recording of Aspiration by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds with Ensemble Inauthentica and acclaimed violinist Irvine Arditti. He was a percussionist in award-winning percussionist Alessandra Belloni's performance of Tarantella Spider Dance at REDCAT in Los Angeles. James has also premiered many new works, including percussionist Randy Gloss's frame drum solo, Suburban Desert Oasis, and Susan Botti's Terra Cruda for Wind Ensemble. James has performed under conductors Christopher Rountree of wild Up, Edward Cumming of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and Mark Menzies.
In addition to his career as a performer and composer, James works as a teaching artist and creative mind in the field of arts and percussion pedagogy. He has taught drum circles and hand drumming classes with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Toyota Symphonies for Youth, and has presented lectures on Ghanaian music and drumming, percussion, and music pedagogy at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), California Institute of the Arts, and Glendale Community College. James also worked as an Arts Integration Specialist for the award-winning Community Arts Partnership (CAP), in which he has designed integrated music and percussion curriculum for science, English, and math teachers at public schools in Los Angeles County, California. James is also the Program Manager for CAP, training and overseeing over fifty CalArts MFA and BFA students teaching in Los Angeles county for free youth art programs. He also developed and taught West African djembe classes to high school students in South Los Angeles through the organization CITYstage. In addition to teaching throughout the United States, James also taught traditional African and Jamaican singing, dancing, and hand drumming to students in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica through SUNY Potsdam’s Jamaica Field Service Project.
James holds a Master of Fine Arts in World Percussion from California Institute of the Arts, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Hartt School with a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance and Instrumental Music Education. James also holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Music in the State of California.