Many excellent musicians originate from the Chicago area, including guitarist James Vincent, whose resume reads like a brief history of modern music. From blues and jazz to fusion and salsa, from studio musician and solo artist to writer and composer, Vincent has never been content to be a student of one style.
Raised in the blues-rich south side of Chicago, he studied the methods of B.B. King and Johnny Smith. He fashioned his finger-picking guitar technique after the great Chet Atkins. James continued to perfect his talent and soon was playing in many of Chicago's more well-known clubs. It was while perfoming here that he was asked to join a band known as The Exceptions, originally founded by Kal David, Marty Grebb and Pete Cetera. They soon became one of the most in demand club acts in town. The Exceptions reached their pinnacle when they toured with Otis Redding.
Cetera later left to pursue other avenues, eventually winding up as the lead singer for Chicago. Vincent's talents were much in demand as a studio musician, laying down tracks for Minnie Ripperton, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and many notable Chess Records recording artists.
Along the way Vincent met rock promoter Bill Graham, who at the time was managing a band called H.P. Lovecraft. The band needed a guitar player and Vincent needed a change, so he took the job and moved to San Francisco. Through that project he met Howard Wales & Jerry Garcia, who had just recorded a now cult classic lp called "Hooter Roll" which was well stocked with talented musicians.
Vincent toured with them for a brief time and liked Garcia's laid-back style, but what he really liked was the work of the guitarist for Hooter Roll's opening band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring John McLaughlin. Their fusion style inspired Vincent and once again he found himself spinning in a new direction.
Vincent later signed with Columbia/Caribou Records and recorded four albums, the most successful being Space Traveler with Harvey Mason on drums, Verdine and Freddy White from Earth, Wind and Fire, Ron Stockert on keyboards and Pete Cetera on background vocals. Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire offered Vincent a position with the band while chatting together on a flight back from England. Though flattered, Vincent declined the offer due to his heavy schedule with his solo career and special projects, such as recording an instrumental album with Rufus, recording and touring with the Latin band Azteca, featuring Sheila E. and Neal Schon (later of Journey fame), and performing with Santana, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express and Etta James band featuring Gregg Allman, to name a few.