James Jones is a former principal euphonium player of the National Youth Brass Band of Wales. Whilst studying at the prestigious Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, James accepted the position of musical director with the then severely depleted Rogerstone Band at the tender age of just eighteen.
James spent five years conducting the band, leading them through various tours, concerts and contests. During his tenure, the band gained promotion from second section to championship section. They also re- entered the world rankings for the first time in six years, and managed to win and successfully defend the Champion Band of Wales First Section title.
During this time, James mentored many young players, providing them with a platform to perform in numerous high profile concerts and contests. Subsequently, many of these young players moved on to study Music at University joining many of Britain's finest brass bands.
James now enjoys freelance conducting and has had the pleasure of conducting many of his local bands. When doing so, James been credited for his refreshing, innovative and exciting approach to music making. James has also compered at various concerts and has an incomparable passion for organising musical events such as concerts and festivals.
During his younger years, James performed in high profile venues across the world. A personal highlight was being the only soloist on Gwent Music Support Service's tour to Poland. This tour was made up of over three hundred musicians and the final concert took placed in an overflowing Krakow Cathedral, where James delivered Karl Jenkins' haunting euphonium solo, Benedictus.
During his studies at college James received tuition off some of Britain's finest tutors. James has also played with several of the UK's top brass bands, more recent bands include, Tongwynlais Temperance, Tylorstown, Flowers, BTM and the Cory Band. James' extensive performing experience crossed with his musical education has allowed him to perform with, conduct and/or receive musical master-classes from some of the World's finest musicians some of which are: Oystein Baadsvik, Wycliff Gordon, Christian Lindberg, Quincy Jones, Professor Edward Gregson, Philip Wilby, Philip Harper, Professors Nicholas and Robert Childs, Ray Farr, Nigel Boddice and David Childs.
James took a twelve month sabbatical from performing at the end of his degree, to focus on his personal life. He was then offered the chance to perform with the prestigious Risca Male Voice Choir as a euphonium soloist performing Karl Jenkins' 'Benedictus' from the Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, thus enabling him to fulfil one of his lifelong ambitions.
Subsequently, this lead to James regaining his passion for performing and he has since made guest soloist performances at several concerts. Shortly after this period, James formalised his move to Usk Brass Band as principal euphonium player. The band decided to start contesting and James was a driving force in many of the band’s successes. During his spell as principal euphonium, James won a plethora of best instrumentalist and soloist awards. At one contest, James collected both awards simultaneously. During his time playing with Usk he managed to successfully defend the ‘best euphonium player’ award at a local contest for four years in a row.
James has a passion for teaching Music; many of his pupils have gone on to study at some of the UK's finest Conservatoires such as Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music, London Academy and Huddersfield University. He enjoys teaching musicians of all ages and standards and shares an equal passion for tutoring music theory.
James is also a keen arranger of music and has also composed music for junior bands. His commission, 'A Fanfare for Usk', was written for his hometown of Usk and has been adopted by each Mayor to be played at their inauguration. James has since gone on to arranged many pieces which have been played by numerous bands.
In 2017, James was asked to move from his position as solo euphonium of Usk Brass Band to take over as the organisation’s new musical director. In doing so James has helped the band qualify for the National Finals of Great Britain on a consecutive hattrick of occasions at his first attempt. James has an unrelenting focus and stealing determination for developing every player individually, thus helping them to improve the overall standard as a whole.
As well as his commitments to conducting, James also plays trombone with a function band called ‘Untapped Sound’. He also re-launched and plays his family quartet ‘The Jones Four’. When James isn’t busy conducting, teaching, composing, arranging, playing or event managing, he is Head of Estates and Facilities for Ty Hafan, one of Wales' biggest charities.
In 2023, James was invited to play at the European Brass Band Championships in Sweden with the world famous Cory Band. James enjoyed a several months of regularly playing for this band, until February 2024, when James was offered a permanent seat in the band playing Baritone.
'To play for Cory and be come a very small part in this world famous, globally respected organisation is incredible. I never dreamed I would get the opportunity to play for this band and it's something I will never forget.'
Some years after leaving the army, Jeff had a spell on tenor horn before swapping to the flugelhorn. Jeff held the flugelhorn position at Abergavenny Band for many years, winning numerous competitions and best instrumentalist awards.
In 2003 Jeff was approached to take the Usk Band, which presented an opportunity to conduct, something which he wanted to pursue.
Since Jeff took over the musical directorship, Usk Band has progressed at an alarming rate, winning countless awards at local competitions. The band has also recorded two CD’s and enjoyed two fantastic tours to Germany.
2012 marked the ten year anniversary of Jeff’s directorship, and the band made the huge decision to re-register as a contesting band. This ended a twenty-five year contest absence and started with the national qualifiers in Swansea. This was a huge decision as contesting presents many addition pressures, but Jeff guided the band through the transition with consummate ease. Nobody could have predicted the success the band managed to achieve in their first year of contesting.
In 2015, after winning the Welsh regional qualifiers, Jeff guided Usk Band to victory at the National Finals of Great Britain 4th Section in Cheltenham. This was Jeff's first appearance as a conductor at the finals and one that will never be forgotten.
After stepping down as MD, Jeff joined the band on flugelhorn. During this time Jeff played a pivotal part in helping the band qualify for the National Finals of Great Britain two years running.
In April 2019 Jeff transferred to horn which substantially adds technical expertise and power to the section in doing so. This switch also made it easier for Jeff to fulfil his role as resident conductor of the band.
"To have a resident conductor with the quality of my Dad is quite remarkable. He totally changed the whole organisation during his tenure conducting the band. Dad is now a key member of the horn section and I'm delighted that he accepted my proposal to conduct the band in my absence during certain events. Whilst I'm away I know I've left the band in good hands."