As a composer James’s repertoire is vast and varied. His commissions include Clarinet Sonata, Piano Variations, A suite based on Colette’s Madame Alvarez and Settings of Joyce’s Chamber music (4 songs) In 2000 he wrote a jazz symphonic work Millenium Celebration for Orchestra, 3 choirs, African Drummers, female soloist and Jazz rhythm section. There are several recordings of his works, notably his Theme and Variations for double bass and piano, the Blake Songs with Jacqueline Dankworth (on the Album For All We Know) and his Improvisation for Organ and Soprano Saxophone on Jaime Le Fleur (with Christian Forshaw)
Amongst the many ensembles he has worked with as an arranger are the Brodsky String Quartet, Sir John Dankworth, The BBC Concert Orchestra and The BBC Big Band. His arrangements have received much critical acclaim. Felix Aprahamian the music critic from The Sunday Times said The harmony of Messian mixed with the rhythmic pulse of George Shearing
His film and theatre work includes Calender Girls, Gangster no. 1, Beyond the Sea and the remake of Alfie, where Joss Stone performed his arrangement of the title song. He had a west end show ‘The Slow Drag’ (Whitehall Theatre) in which he wrote the original music, and was the Musical Director for Maria Ewing for two of her shows. He has just completed the 80 minute sound track for the Big Smoke, which was commissioned by the BFI.