James Francies Is Soaring, and Has High-Flying Recordings to Prove It, on The Checkout

Feb 15, 2019

The meteoric rise of James Francies is no surprise to anyone embedded in New York’s thriving jazz scene. 


Besides celebrating his auspicious debut, Flight, on Blue Note Records, this multi-pronged pianist keeps an ambitious touring schedule with guitarist Pat Metheny and others. On this edition of My Music, Francies — a Houston native at ease in many settings, from jazz to electronic music to hip-hop — tells his story. 

We begin by hearing Francies as both bassist and keyboardist on Circuits, an album by saxophonist Chris Potter that also features the stellar drum work of Eric Harland. Then we delve into the pianist’s fascinating backstory — from making an income as a child in a variety of churches in Houston; to emulating his piano hero Oscar Peterson in both style and wardrobe; to finding his original voice on his instrument while making key alliances with many of today’s top influencers, like Questlove from The Roots. 

Watch Francies perform his composition “Crib” in our WBGO performance studio, with Burniss Travis on bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums.

Catch James Francies on tour by going to his website.

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Assistant Producer: Anthony Nieves