Woody James has been a full-time music professor in the Los Angeles Community College District since 1974. Prior to that time he attended the University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University and Michigan State University, receiving degrees from all three institutions, including the Ph. D. from Michigan State. Woody’s teaching specialties include Jazz Appreciation, Jazz Harmony, Jazz Improvisation and Jazz Ensemble (Big Band). After attending Michigan State, Dr. James taught full-time at Florence State College, McNeese State College, California State University Northridge, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Valley College.
As a graduate assistant, he taught at the University of Mississippi and Michigan State University. The Los Angeles Jazz Society presented Dr. James with the Outstanding Jazz Educator award for 1993. Woody James has been a part of the professional music community in Los Angeles since he joined Musicians’ Union Local 47 in 1972. As a music contractor he has assembled instrumental and vocal ensembles for recording, film, television and live performances. He has been a trumpet player for more than 50 years.
Prior to coming to Los Angeles he played trumpet with the Les Elgart, Ray Anthony, Tommy Dorsey, Tony Pastor, Norman Lee, Eddy Howard, Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Neighbors bands and with the Baton Rouge, Lansing and Lake Charles symphonies. He has played trumpet for the Ringling Brothers and Shrine circuses and for the Walt Disney On Parade, Ice Capades and Holiday On Ice shows. He has toured with Elvis Presley and performed for lounge acts featuring Eddie Fisher, Hal Lindon, Bobby Rydell, Vaughn Monroe, Helen Forrest and many others For the past thirty-five years, Woody has directed 18-piece jazz bands at California colleges.
Woody has played trumpet in the Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Lansing symphonies. As a jazz trumpet player and leader he has two albums to his credit, and his side musicians included Shelly Manne, Frank Strazzeri, Bob Maize, Phil Woods, Steve Wilkerson, Carl Fontana, Ted Richardson and arranger Bill Holman.