Born in Hull, James's first introduction to music was listening to his father Richard play guitar. With this background, of course music was always a constant part of home life, and so it was almost inevitable that before too long James was showing a keen interest in playing an instrument.
Starting with a small chord organ at the age of five, James soon progressed to a full size Hammond organ and began an intensive period of study. During this time, he was also fortunate enough to be allowed to practise his pipe organ technique at a local church, which led ultimately to his appointment as organist and choirmaster for a period of twelve years. Well-known local music teacher Noel Flint also gave James much encouragement and inspiration and happily welcomed him to practice his piano skills during his lunch hours!
During James's time at school, he remained enthralled by the organ and became something of a thorn in the side to the manager of the local music shop, who he pestered incessantly for brochures, price lists, demo records and anything else that would feed his hunger for his hobby. On leaving school he took a job as a demonstrator in the same store, and within three years was managing the shop.
This was the beginning of the digital era, and the age of the 'orchestral' organ was just beginning to dawn. Having played Hammond organs for most of his life, James now began to discover the new musical possibilities that the latest technology could offer. Around this time, he embarked on his concert career, playing his first professional theatre organ concerts at the age of 18. Before too long James's diary filled up with organ society concerts in addition to his regular stint at a local working men's club, backing vocalists together with a local drummer.
￼A spell working for P&O Ferries followed, with James providing backing for the evening cabaret, followed by the 'graveyard shift' of the cocktail piano bar, playing regularly into the small hours each night aboard the two largest cruise ferries in the world.
After leaving P&O, James went back to his first love, with his appointment as Sales Promotions Manager for Hammond UK. During this time, he became a familiar face on the festival scene, which he continued to enjoy in his later role as Regional Manager for Yamaha Music Europe, dividing his time between executive decision making around the boardroom table, formulating sales and promotion plans with dealers, and mixing with members of the public at the ‘coal face’ in both his demonstrations and concert performances.
Since joining Yamaha in the late 1990s, he has been actively involved in the design and programming of many of the company's most successful products, including the incredible Tyros range of keyboards. He became a familiar name to millions of viewers as the public face of Yamaha on the TV shopping channel QVC.
James is a huge advocate of music education and now spends much of his working life visiting schools, colleges and conservatoires in an advisory role, helping music teachers and professors find new solutions to their challenges, and devising stimulating new teaching practises that fully utilise today's technology. He also oversees the Yamaha Music Foundation scholarship awards, which have donated over £1 million in scholarships to promising young music students across Europe. James is an active member of the European Piano Teachers' Association and is increasingly in demand as a jury member adjudicating classical competitions.
James's musical taste is broad, and In a varied programme, he tries to incorporate as many of his own favourite different styles of music as possible, hoping to incorporate favourites of the public along the way. James also features tributes to some of his musical heroes, including Keith Beckingham, Robin Richmond, Jackie Brown, Vic Hammett, Bryan Rodwell and many more, together with a selection of brand new material marrying the classic tonewheel organ sound with today's best orchestral and band sounds.
James remains something of a true enthusiast with a quite enviable collection of electronic and theatre organ recordings amongst his archives as well as having owned a most prolific number of makes and models of instruments over the years. It is perhaps this innate knowledge of just about every genre of organ and keyboard ever produced that has given him his unrivalled ability to reproduce both the sounds, registrations and associated style patterns of so many well-loved types of popular music.
"I guess that it’s fair to say that many of the well-known faces within the popular keyboard world are typically known for maybe one or two particular facets of their ability. Some are respected as excellent musicians or performers, some for their tuition, demonstration or teaching skills, some for a clever mastery of registration and some for their programming and technical skills. James Sargeant ticks all those boxes as well as possessing a most engaging and humorous personality." - Chris Powell
"In all of my many years associated with music, I have never heard a concert where the musician played without dropping a single note. Tonight's performance from James Sargeant proves it can be done." - South Yorkshire Keyboard and Organ Club
"... superb arrangements... supremely stylish harmonies... what a refreshing and welcome change to hear some (very) rhythmic numbers played WITHOUT a rhythm unit..." - Blackpool Keyboard Club
"... such an accomplished player and performer with the ability to make any instrument he touches talk beautifully..." - Steve Selwood, Yamaha Keyboard Enthusiasts
"A refreshing change to have a different instrument played with seemingly effortless skill and organ sounds more prominent for a change, with excellent registrations..." - West Surrey Organ & Keyboard Club
"Thank you so much for an absolutely wonderful concert... our guests and members loved it!" - Keynote Concerts
"Absolute masterclass Hammond evening tonight with James Sargeant. Wonderful night, as predicted... Thank you James, great show - we loved it... very enjoyable and refreshingly different." - Gainsborough Organ & Keyboard Club
"Thank you again so much for your wonderful performance last week - our members are still talking about your fabulous concert!" - Burgess Hill Keyboard Club
"What can I say about last month's concert from James Sargeant - without a doubt the UK's finest exponent of the Tyros." - Springfield Organ & Keyboard Club
"... a concert to savour. The sounds were excellent, the programme well chosen and the player first class. A truly memorable evening!" - Clacton & District Organ Society
"A masterclass in playing the Hammond." - Basildon Keyboard Club
"One of the finest concerts we've had for many years." - St Helens Organ Society
"Wonderful tasteful arrangements played with great expression & feel... up there with many wonderful names from our past." - David Thomas
"One of the world's very best keyboard presenters." - Peter Baartmans
"The finest keyboard presenter in the UK today." - Tony Pegler
"Nobody else on the UK organ circuit plays jazz organ style quite like James... one of the very few organists whose albums I listen to on my iPod!" - Glyn Madden
|Concerts in 2018|
|October 18th||Harrogate Electronic Organ & Keyboard Club|
|October 25th||Stockport Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
(Club's Yamaha AR100 organ)
|November 9th||Yamaha Club Weekend|
|November 10th||Yamaha Club Weekend|
|November 11th||Yamaha Club Weekend|
|Concerts in 2019|
|January 15th||White Rose Organ & Keyboard Society|
|February 26th||Hastings & Bexhill Organ & Keyboard Society|
|May 13th||Cheadle and District Organ Society|
|October 29th||Norwich Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club|