James Chance, also known as James White (born James Siegfried), is an American saxophonist, keyboard player, songwriter and singer.
A key figure in No Wave, Chance has been playing a combination of improvisational jazz-like music and punk in the New York music scene since the late 1970s, in such bands as Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, James Chance and the Contortions, James White and the Blacks (as he appeared in the film Downtown 81), The Flaming Demonics, James Chance & the Sardonic Symphonics, James Chance and Terminal City, and James Chance and Les Contortions.
Chance attended Michigan State University, then the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, dropped out and moved to New York City in 1976. He quickly became active in both the free jazz and no wave punk rock scenes. His first band in New York in 1976 was an instrumental quartet with violin, drums and bass called Flaming Youth.
After studying for a short time under David Murray, Chance formed The Contortions, who fused jazz improvisation and funk rhythms, with live shows often ending in violence when Chance would confront audience members. The Contortions reached a wider audience with their contribution to the Brian Eno-compiled "No New York" collection of No Wave acts.
While Chance was professionally and romantically linked with No Wave musical luminary Lydia Lunch, the duo created seminal No Wave group Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, whom Chance soon left. Chance briefly relocated to Paris, returning to New York City in 1983 to record the album "James White Presents The Flaming Demonics". In 1987, he contributed saxophone to The False Prophets' "Implosion" album.
In 2001, Chance reunited with original Contortions members Jody Harris (guitar), Pat Place (slide guitar) and Don Christensen (drums) for a few limited engagements. Original keyboard player Adele Bertei appeared briefly, but bass player George Scott III had died of an accidental drug overdose in 1980 and his slot was filled by Eric Sanko. The reunited group has played twice at the All Tomorrow's Partiesmusic festival, and, in 2008, at the PS1 Warm Up series.
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