James Perkins is one of Chicago’s elite saxophone & woodwind artists who has also significantly contributed his talents globally for the last 50+ years as a professional player, writer, and recording artist in every musical capacity, genre, and venue imaginable. Being somewhat an industry secret, James has not enjoyed the public successes shared by many of his colleagues and contemporaries but is highly regarded as one of the most skilled and knowledgeable saxophonist to have been produced by the Chicago music scene. Having performed with top artists in just about everything involving music as a powerful live performer, he’s also enjoyed the title of a ‘solid 1st call’ session player for studio work and has been featured on thousands of recordings, albums, and jingles/industrials as well as hundreds of theater productions in both musical and acting performance roles. James has led several incarnations of his own group (The James Perkins Ensemble) as well as performed as a standing member of several acclaimed groups in Chicago and nationally. He was also a U.S. Navy Band performer during his 14 years of Naval Service which led to him receiving a Letter of Commendation from the Commanding Flag Officer of Naval Station Great Lakes. Furthermore, James has been an educator during his long career to many now globally recognized musicians and has long devoted his talents to training musicians in both standard educational as well as non-profit institutions. He has participated in, and is skilled in just about every aspect of media and production arts (video, photography, sound, publishing, editing, etc.) as he considers adjacent skills necessary to be the complete package in the creation of art. James has traveled extensively and lived in other countries at different points in his career as both a performer and an educator but currently spends the majority of time in or near the greater Chicagoland area. He also enjoys his other profession as a Certified Firearm Instructor and routinely trains and competes with other like-minded law enforcement, military, and enthusiast/professionals in that arena.

James’s credits are extensive and therefore will be listing only a select few of the artist(s) with whom he has recorded with, toured with, and/or been a member of the band or organization, performed with, with respect and apologies if any significant artist has been unintentionally left out.

Lucy Lawless (ZENA, Warrior Princess), Albert King, Bobby Lyle, Grand Staff, The Irene Michaels Band, the Musicians Network Mecca, Timeless Gifts, Von and George Freeman, James Mack, Dr. Billy Taylor, the Winans, The Mighty Dells, The Chi-Lites, The Temptations, Ashford & Simpson, Anita Baker, Onaje Alan Gumbs, Michael Wolf (Arsenio), DJ Quik, Bobby Brown, Jon B, Colin Hey, Ringo Starr, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, James Mack, The Chicago Cats, Daryl Tookes, Teresa Griffin, Lou Rawls, The Four Tops, Ramsey Lewis, The Brian Perry Orchestra, Kristy Black, John Patitucci, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Imperials, Charmaine Neville, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Dawn Lewis, Malachi Favors, Malachi Thompson, The Dells, Gladys Knight, The AACM, The Shadow Vignettes, Henry Johnson, Phil Perry, Robert Irving III, Val Gray Ward, Phase 4, Ed Thigpen, Billy Higgins, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Nat Adderley, Stanley Turentine, Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, Kwame Steve Cobb & Chavunduka, Stefon Harris, Barry Sames, Alex Bugnon, Donovan, Mambo 911 Orchestra, Jean Carne, Michael Henderson, Norman Connors,  Mary Wilson & the Supremes, Wayman Tisdale, Kirk Whalum, Charles Cameron & the Sunshine Festival, just to name a few.

In addition, James has received several awards and accolades locally, nationally, and internationally including letters of commendation by U.S.Naval Commanding Flag Officers, Numerous awards for musicical tours of JAPAN from 1985 – 1992, Numerous awards and articles in Canada and Europe from 1982 – 2005, many articles and reviews of US tours lauding his musical skill and powerful performances, and a 1988 permanent selection into THE OUTSTANDING YOUNG AMERICANS JOURNAL as well as induction into the International Who’s Who of Jazz. James has also acted in several theater productions in Chicago and New York and has appeared in several movies and television shows locally and nationally. Now approaching over a half century of performing James has no intentions of slowing down and looks forward to further serving his task of healing through his craft for as long as he’s able to do so.


James A. Perkins, Jr

Saxophones, Woodwinds, Flutes, EWI

(847)668-1451 mobile