A Missouri native, James Lower has spent a majority of his life studying and performing in and around Kansas City. At age 12 Lower received his first drum set and quickly discovered his desire to become a jazz drummer. While many drummers his age were exploring rock, pop, or rap, Lower was busy studying Jeff Hamilton’s style of playing. Early on he knew that Hamilton’s infectious style and mastery of the brushes was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Eventually drummers like Mel Lewis, Elvin Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones, Buddy Rich, and Shelly Manne began influencing Lower.
Self-taught until college, Lower attended the University of Central Missouri earning a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies. At UCM, Lower studied music performance and music pedagogy with Dr. Michael Sekelsky and Dr. David Aaberg, all while regularly performing throughout Kansas City. After graduation, Lower studied with professor Jim White at the University of Northern Colorado but later returned to the thriving music scene in Kansas City. He is currently finishing his Masters in Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
As a performer Lower regularly performs throughout the Kansas City jazz scene and has been involved in everything from piano trio to big band. Lower also runs the 16-piece Broadway Jazz Orchestra dedicated to the music of the Terry Gibbs Dream Band, Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and the post-Thad Jones music of the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. In addition to an active performing schedule and graduate studies, Lower is currently presenting clinics to local high schools and middle schools. His passion for teaching has led to a continually growing private teaching studio that includes students of all ages and skill levels.