Trombonist Jim Masters was born on March 31, 1954 to a very musical family in Saint Charles, Illinois. His father, a trombonist, encouraged Jim to take up the trombone at age six. Inspired by his uncle, a Dixieland trumpeter, and Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass Band, a 13-year-old Jim started a Dixieland Tijuana Brass cover band with some friends from church. The band, called Brass Leaf, played on a riverboat in Saint Charles.
Jim moved to Ohio in 1971, and graduated from Howland High School near Warren, Ohio in 1972. Jim attended Youngstown State University and the University of Chicago (where he was a member of the first Chicago Jazz Ensemble), studying with Bill Russo, Vern Kagarice, Tony Leonardi, and Jeff Childs.
While studying at Youngstown State, Jim met his wife-to-be, Carol, the daughter of a trumpet professor and the sister of a friend in the jazz band. They married four years later in 1979. The couple moved to New York City, where Jim embarked on a career playing music. He toured with the Buddy Rich Big Band and the Widespread Jazz Orchestra, and has played with Mel Lewis, Candido, Jorge Anders, Roy Gerson, Dave Lalama, Maria Schneider, Tito Puente, and many others.
In 1990, Jim moved to Columbus, a safer place to raise a family, which by then included daughter Olivia. One year later, he began subbing for Gary Carney in the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. He became an official member of the band in 2001. Jim is also a full-time lecturer at The Ohio State University, a freelance musician and composer, and founder and leader of the American Jazz Experience (AJE), a jazz education program presented by the Jazz Arts Group. AJE performs approximately 40 concerts annually for fifth graders all around Columbus.
Jim loves playing with all the members of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, which is evident at every concert. “I count my blessings every time I’m on the stage… This is a gift… It’s a great band.” His favorite guest artists have been James Moody, Benny Carter, Louie Bellson, Dave Weckl, and Harold Jones. Jim’s musical influences are J.J. Johnson, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. When he’s not writing or playing music, Jim enjoys writing poetry, sculpting, wood carving, fixing cuckoo clocks, and golfing with fellow orchestra members Wes Orr, Ola Hanson, and Tommy Dale.