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James Stewart was born in Trenton, New Jersey and began playing the clarinet and alto saxophone in middle school, adding the tenor saxophone and flute in his high school years under the direction of the late Thomas Gryce (brother of George General or GiGi Gryce.) James earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from New Jersey City University in 1980, and over the years has performed with Sam Rivers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Frank Foster, Randy Weston, Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Danny Mixon, Oliver Lake, Gloria Gaynor, The Lionel Hampton Big Band, The Temptations, and the Sun Ra Arkestra.
James has recorded with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Oliver Lake, an NPR broadcast with Randy Weston, and Danny Mixon. James recently retired from teaching for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.