James Mainwaring is an award winning saxophonist and composer based in Leeds, UK. With a distinctive sound, he explores everything between soft and spacious to aggressive and intense; augmented by extended-techniques and the use of effects pedals. As a composer and improvisor, James forms a unique musical language, integrating contemporary and traditional influences from all over the world.

Best known for his collaboration with Luke Wynter and Luke Reddin-Williams in the Mercury prize, MOBO and Jazz FM nominated Roller Trio he has toured extensively with a growing following and critical acclaim. As well as these award nominations in 2012/13 they won the 2011 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, were chosen for BBC introducing and received tour support from PRSF. In 2012 James received a Jazz Services grant to record his new project Tipping Point which features pianist Matthew Bourne, bassist Mick Bardon and drummer Joost Hendrickx. James has also received the Emerging Excellence Award (2013) and was also selected for Take Five; an artist development programme led by Serious and released Tipping Point’s The Earthworm’s Eye View in 2015. The Earthworm’s Eye View was described by John Fordham in the Guardian as “Playful, dark, skilful and spontaneous… a surefooted trip across many persuasions in contemporary music’. Other projects include performing solo (acoustic and with electronics), various line ups from a Leeds-based collective of improvising musicians and audio-visual band; Space Fight (who were 2013 Jazz Ambassadors of the North and supported by Sound and Music). James has also been a session musician for Django Django, playing guitar and saxophone on their live gigs and recording on their second album Born Under Saturn. He’s also performed in the projects of Morten Schantz ‘GodSpeed’, Dave Kane, John Law, Sean Foran, Nduduzo Makathini, Nektarios Rodosthenous, Chris Sharkey, Jonathan Brigg (Stoop Quintet), classical composer John Stringer and many more.

Born in Warrington (1989), James showed early signs of interests in music. From the age of three he observed piano lessons taught by his mother and named all the instruments played by a penguin marching band on his childhood duvet cover (always favouring the penguin that played the saxophone). After singing in metal bands, learning classical saxophone and wanting to learn more about jazz he went on to study at Leeds College of Music. Always ambitious to create new music, James became involved in the innovative Leeds music scene and studied with members of the Leeds Improvised Music Association (LIMA) such as Christophe De Bezenac, Dave Kane and Matthew Bourne as well as leading jazz educators Joel Purnell, Jim Corry and Jamil Sheriff. In his final year he formed experimental band Mainwaring/Bardon/Horne. James went on to broaden his influences becoming interested in contemporary classical, electronics, Hindustani – attending SAA UK summer school and School of Improvisation at the Norwegian Academy of Music. He continued his study at the University of York. where he is currently recipient of the Sir Jack Lyons Research PhD Scholarship supervised by Jonathan Eato. At York he has studied with John Taylor, Julian Arguelles and performed with Nikki Iles.



2016 – Promise Threat (Film) Ray Kane, live soundtrack by RT (Lamplight Social Records)

2015 – The Earthworm’s Eye View Tipping Point (Lamplight Social Records)

2014 – Fracture Roller Trio album (Lamplight Social Records)

2014: Live in Rotterdam Roller Trio (Lamplight Social Records)

2013: Tracer – The Real World Sessions. (Society of Sound)

2013: Sci-Fi Space Fight (Wave Folder Records)

2012 Roller Trio Roller Trio (F-IRECD52)

2011 Space Fight Space Fight

2010 Live at 7arts 30/05/10 Mainwaring/Bardon/Horne



2016 – ‘Broken Toy’ (Single) RIIB

2016 – ‘Hello Stranger’ (Single) RIIB


Press quotes

‘James Mainwaring’s tenor saxophone playing is hands down the most impressive and challenging I’ve witnessed in the last few years, and the blasts that drive the opener forward were thrilling…..otherworldly’ Clive Paris Rozario (AAA Music)

‘Original material and wonderfully deconstructed jazz standards…. re-affirmed Mainwaring as a major new voice in British jazz.’ Lance (Bebop Spoken Here)

‘Very interesting and totally engaging pieces… terrific, some of the best sax playing I’ve ever heard… extraordinary virtuosity’ Roger Marsh (composer)

‘true mastery… At times producing the subtlest sounds whilst at others showing the strength of the instrument.’
Scott Ronan (What Culture)

‘Saxophonist James Mainwaring is a resourceful exponent of John Zornian squealings, growling split-note sounds and almost-romantic tenor rumination…’ John Fordham (Guardian)

‘Beautiful tone’ Ivan Hewett (The Telegraph)

‘Awesome sax skronk skills” Lauren Laverne (Channel 4, BBC)

‘Edgy. earthy, bellicose tenor sax’ JazzMann

‘James Mainwaring is extremely talented and who is on a mission, breaking down the borders of genres’ Morten Schantz

Tipping Point

“Playful, dark, skilful and spontaneous… a surefooted trip across many persuasions in contemporary music.” – John Fordham, The Guardian ****

“Moments of collective beauty” – Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise ****

“Adventurous, ironic, playful, and humorous” – Nick Stevenson, Jazzlines


Roller Trio

“Dark, menacing, bass heavy – the new sound of UK jazzzzzzz!” Gilles Peterson BBC 6 Music

“Each piece evolves intriguingly – raw noises swap with cool melodies; glowering, Spanish-sounding pieces unleash tenor-sax whirls; blurting stop-start motifs ease in and out of swing grooves – and the trio’s formidable playing and composing power suggest a very bright future.” John Fordham The Guardian **** Stars

“What sets this young group apart is how often they favour melody over muscle. Memorable tunes such as R-O-R and Where’s My Whip will resonate with listeners who have never darkened a jazz club door” The Times **** Stars

“Sidesteps every pigeonhole, mingling rock back beats, Indian flavoured harmonies and film noir paciness….  A gleeful pleasure” Daily Telegraph **** Stars

“With musicianship, dynamics, bravado and focus well beyond their years, The Roller Trio’s debut album has taken this listeners breath away. Catch their powerful live performance for further proof of a band destined for greatness”

Mike Chadwick Jazz FM

“Every now and then you see a band and think, wow this lot have really got it. For such a young band they are ridiculously accomplished – there’s hundreds of hours of playing together behind their super-tight sound and quiet confidence. Roller Trio have a nasty bite but their catchy bark will get you in the end”. Jez Nelson Jazz on 3/ BBC Radio 3

“Minutes into their set at the BBC Introducing session at the 2012 Manchester Jazz Festival, the snappy, sparky young Leeds-based trio had the venue bobbing. Their debut exerts a similar appeal, right from its opening salvo Deep Heat, as drummer Luke Reddin-Williams, guitarist Luke Wynter and tenor saxophonist James Mainwaring create trance by way of rhythm. “

“The trio can switch the feel of a tune in a heartbeat from edgy improv to anthemic power riffs to reverb-swamped note storms”. The Arts Desk

“The sheer variety, power and energy of the nine tracks on this compelling album immediately impress”. Chris Parker London Jazz Blog

“I was very impressed by Roller Trio. Reminded of my first encounters with Wayne Krantz and trioVD. Visceral and highly charged”.  Mike Butler MEN/Rock and Reel

“Epic rock-edge riffs, angular sax explorations, brooding beats and haunting dub-step style electronics..” Jazzwise

“Roller Trio is an album full of interesting ideas that are realised with restraint and conviction, never fully making the leap from jazz to rock, but instead inhabiting its own little space in between” Nowthen Magazine


Educational Establishments:

University of York (current)


University of York

Leeds College of Music

Qualifications gained:

PhD Music


MA Music (distinction)

BA (hons) Jazz (1st)


Sir Jack Lyons Research Scholarship

Jazz Assistanship


George Murphy Saxophone prize (recital)


Other Training


Take Five 22/02/2014 Serious Ltd
SAA UK (Indian Music Summer School) 08/2013 SAA UK
Effective Researcher (Vitae) 25/04/2013 University of York
Becoming an Effective Researcher 24/04/2013 University of York
Structuring and Designing Sessions 22/04/2013 University of York
School of Improv


03/2011 Norwegian Academy of Music


Riot Squad Publicity, Serious, Help Musicians UK, PRSF, Lamplight Social Records, F-IRE, Wave Folder Records, RICO reeds, D’darrio Woodwinds, AMT Microphones.




Roller Trio

Channel 4 – Barclaycard Mercury Prize Album of the Year 2012

Channel 4 – LSO ST Lukes gig with Ben Howard. Broadcasted on channel 4

BBC1 London News feature – Canary Wharf Jazz Festival

BBC Three – R-O-R’ (MOBO awards)

Django Django – BT Sports


Roller Trio

XFM – live session feature on John Kennedy’s show.

BBC Radio 3 – BBC Introducing concert at Band on the Wall, Manchester broadcasted on Jazz on 3

BBC 6 Music – feature and interview.

BBC Leeds – feature and interview.

Regular airplay on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC 6 Music (with interviews), BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Leeds (with interview), BBC London and BBC Radio 1 (once)

Tipping Point

Radio 3, Late Junction and Jazz on 3, Jazz FM


Live Highlights

2015 – 2016

UK, Europe and Russia with Django Django. Including major festivals Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading etc

Tipping Point UK tour

Roller Trio in Sudan


Space Fight at Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

Space Fight at Gateshead International Jazz Festival, UK

with Jonathan Briggs Stoop Quintet at Coastival (Scarborough), The Vortex (London) and The University of York concert series.

Quartet residency funded by Help Musicians UK, gigs at the Lescar (Sheffield) and Fusebox (Leeds) and recording funded by Jazz Services.

London Jazz Festival solo debut at Kings Place



Shorvoham – Luminosity performance.

Roller Trio at Gwytn Hall, Neath

3 Roller Trio dates in Seville, Spain

Quartet at Schmazz, the Cluny, Newcastle

Space Fight rehearsal residency and England tour

Epidemic spliff, in Newcastle, Northern Ireland


Roller Trio and Gogo penguin England tour

Band on the wall




Roller Trio at

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival

Ronnie Scotts (Headliners, sold out)

Brecon Jazz Festival


Roller Trio headline Love Supreme Festival

Space Fight headline Wschod Kultury,  Rzeszów, Poland

Roller Trio at the Southbank centre, London


Roller Trio at Jazzlines, Birmingham and Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

Roller Trio Society of sound sessions, Real World Studios.


Roller Trio double bill with Polar Bear at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Roller Trio gigs in Berlin and ELB Jazz Festival, Hamberg


Roller Trio play at STORM! Jazz Festival in Ostend, Belgium

James Mainwaring Trio (Michael Bardon and Steve Hanley) at Darlington Jazz Festival


Roller Trio at

Liverpool International Jazz Festival

Vibraphonic festival (Exeter)

Leeds College of Music


Roller at

Lescar, Sheffield (sold out)

Kings Place, London

King Tuts, Glasgow


Roller Trio at

Salon İKSV, Istanbul



Roller Trio UK tour


Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Roller Trio at Gatehead Jazz Festival, the Roundhouse, London, Mercury show broadcasted on channel 4, LSO st Lukes  with Ben Howard. York Spring Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, BBC introducing at Band on the wall, Jazz is… Dublin, The Vortex, London Jazz Festival, Pizza Express, London, Wigan Jazz Festivals, Matt and Phreds,The Wardrobe, Sela Bar, many more.