James M. King is best known as saxophonist, multi instrumentalist, and co-founder of multi-platinum band Fitz and the Tantrums.
King's baritone sax playing has been a key part of the LA band’s sound since their inception in 2008, featuring prominently on their radio hits “Out of my League”, “Fool”, “HandClap” and 2013’s alternative smash “The Walker” which he co-wrote.
On stage, his role in the band as multi-instrumentalist encompasses alto and bari sax, flute, guitar, keyboards, percussion and background vocals.
Outside of Fitz and the Tantrums, King has appeared on records by Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Madlib, De La Soul, Ibrahim Ferrer, Jimmy Cliff, Broadheds, and Gold Cobra. In 2011 he contributed the widely recognized zeitgeist-capturing sax solo to M83’s platinum hit “Midnight City”. His most recent flute, alto, tenor, and bari sax work appears on new albums by Foster the People, Father John Misty, Brother Ali and Queens of the Stone Age.
His domestic and international live appearances have included work with Tony Bennett, Spoon, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, The Wailing Souls, Sara Bareilles, Obi Best, Harper Simon, and actor Jeff Goldblum’s straight ahead jazz quintet; with whom he still performs regularly. He has performed on flute and sax with many prominent Latin pop and salsa artists, including Ray Barretto, Adonis Puentes, Joe Bataan, Perico Hernandez and Domingosiete. He was a longtime member of LA deep funk heroes Breakestra, Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra, and roots reggae collective The Lions.
His composition credits include the soundtrack for the feature-length kids’ adventure “Nic and Tristan Go Mega-Dega”, and animated shorts including “The Prince and Mr. Whiskers”, currently in production for the Nickelodeon network. He has performed on numerous film and television soundtracks such as Spongebob Squarepants, Mr. Men, and The Hangover 2.
He arranged and produced the cover of the Allen/Bacharach classic “Arthur's Theme”, performed by Fitz and the Tantrums, for the 2011 ‘Arthur’ movie reboot starring Russell Brand.
King grew up in a musical household, the son of a jazz guitarist and a cellist. He studied saxophone with Mel Steinberg and flute with Karen Hayhurst while attending Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, and subsequently earned his BFA in jazz performance at California Institute of the Arts (‘99), where he studied with Paul Novros, Vinny Golia, David Roitstein and Gary Joynes.
James King endorses reeds by D’Addario Woodwinds, and Theo Wanne mouthpieces.