1998 James has been leading the Masked Marvels, assembling an ever
expanding core of energetic and razor-sharp musicians, ranging from
three to nine pieces, to showcase the masterworks of legendary bassist/composer
Charles Mingus. James and The Masked Marvels break open Mingus
compositions and bring them to life before live audiences throughout
the area and on record with the 2002 release, Live at the Block.
Merenda and the MMs dont treat the works like something to
be seen and not touched, but instead use them as a launch pad for
innovative and incendiary improvisation. The Masked Marvels have
performed at Bostons Hatch Memorial Shell, WGBH radio, WERS
radio, Ryles Jazz Club, Zeitgeist Gallery, The Acton Jazz Cafe,
the Gardner Museum and many more venues and have been featured in
the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Cadence Magazine.
also performs on piano with the James Merenda Trio and in a duo
setting with vocalist Vanessa Morris. He currently collaborates
on the experimental, improvisational project Noise is Musics
Dream of Us and with bassist John Voigts Something
Different Series. James has also led and performed with Portrait
of Mingus, Tribute to Horace Silver, Phenus Khaben and Perilous
a thriving jazz scene for musicians of all levels to play live and
make connections, James has been hosting weekly and monthly open
jam sessions at Costellos in Jamaica Plain, the Center for
Arts in Natick and Matt Murphys Pub in Brookline since 2001.
active, James has performed with; Ran Blake at the Knitting Factory,
the Darmstadt Jazz Festival in Germany and recorded on Hatology
Records; with Roswell Rudd and Beat Science, Cameron Brown, Joe
McPhee, Joe Hunt, former Ornette Coleman keyboardist Dave Bryant,
Grammy Award winning pianist David Maxwell, the Either/Orchestra,
the Ardvark Orchestra, the Slip, contemporary guitarists Marc Ribot,
David Fiuczynsdi, Dave Tronzo and with drummer Bob Gullotti. James
has also performed on Radio France, Radio Europa in Italy and in
Holland, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark and
Belgium with Perilous Foil.
an educator James has created a curriculum infusing classic music
instruction with third stream concepts to students ranging in age
from infant to age twelve at Paige Academy in Boston. Hes
led jazz ensemble classes at New England Conservatory of Music and
Northeastern University and is currently on the staff of the N.U.
Department of Music. Since 1992 James has taught privately and since
1994 he has taught piano at the Brookline Music School. A native
of Brooklyn, New York, James is a 1991 graduate of the New England
Conservatory of Music, studying with Ran Blake, George Garzone,
Geri Allen and George Russell.
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