Christopher James Features World-Class Musicians on THE SAD WALTZ, a follow up to his Solo Album, HOUSE BY THE RAILROAD

album cover art

The Sad Waltz by Christopher James

Composer Christopher James' released The Sad Waltz, a follow up to his solo album, House by the Railroad.

The pianist-composer-producer's diverse history includes five albums, a Hit Single with Val Gardena, and serving as longtime CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz.

The Sad Waltz is about as out of the box as you can get, and I mean that in a very, very good way!”
— Kathy Parsons,
BURBANK, CA, UNITED STATES, August 1, 2017 / -- Christopher James Music is pleased to announce the much-anticipated release of The Sad Waltz, distributed via Caroline/Universal and Sands Foley Entertainment. Following his autobiographical 2015 debut solo album, House by the Railroad, The Sad Waltz is an eclectic, cinematic journey, driven by 13 compositions that flow soulfully through a rich tapestry of the many musical and cultural influences in the NYC based artist's life. The album is currently available on CD through Amazon and digitally on iTunes, Spotify and all major digital stores.

“The Sad Waltz is about as out of the box as you can get,” writes Kathy Parsons, editor of, “and I mean that in a very, very good way! ...I give it my highest recommendation.”

Informing his new album is James' diverse musical background; he has released five albums and scored a Hit Single with his ’90s duo Val Gardena, while working with musical superstars from Pavarotti and Bocelli, to Chris Botti and Sting, as the longtime CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz. His vast musical inspirations include legendary film composer John Barry, French impressionist composer Claude Debussy, pop legend Elton John (whom James calls “a beacon of light that continues to be my North Star”) and George Gershwin, with whom James shares a birth date. James’ relationship with his late father also influences his work, present in the album’s single vocal tune, the haunting ballad “I Can See It Now” sung by Jessica Wasko and featuring lyrics by Nashville songwriter Craig Carothers.

Recording via cross-country digital file sharing and many live in-studio performances, James produced The Sad Waltz with his longtime and invaluable collaborator Bob Stark and GRAMMY®-winning engineer Kevin Killen (Shakira, U2, David Bowie). To flesh out a unique musical vision he colorfully calls “a very interesting movie with no visual,” James invited several world class musicians to the sessions, including bassists Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel) and Tim Lefebvre (Bowie), guitarist Gerry Leonard (Bowie), Thomas Barber (Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis) and saxophonist/arranger Andy Snitzer (Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones).

The irony of calling his latest work The Sad Waltz isn’t lost on James. “A waltz is a dance in three, and you generally don’t think of waltzes as sad,” he says. “Yet that reflects the uniqueness and diversity of this album, where you may come in with certain expectations but the next track is never predictable. The Sad Waltz taps into various aspects of my musical life, including the wide variety of artists and styles I listened to growing up.”

While James loved Leonard Bernstein and everything Gershwin, the first album he ever asked his parents to buy him was Isaac Hayes’ Shaft Soundtrack. Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was a favorite, as were jazz revolutionaries like Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis and the wildly brassy jazz scores from 70’s TV Crime Dramas (“The Streets of San Francisco,”) that inspired one of The Sad Waltz’s freshest and trippiest tracks, “The Mighty Quinn (Martin)” whose title is a riff on the Bob Dylan classic. All of this imbues his style, a bit like “a musical chameleon whose compositions go through a lot of left and right turns without using turn signals.” No matter the direction, however, James brings certain harmonic and melodic aspects of those early influences with him.

Beyond “Quinn,” which James showcases in the center of the tracking list of The Sad Waltz, there are numerous other highlights geared to spark the listener’s imagination. The moody opening track “Consequence of Intent” offers an impressionistic juxtaposition for piano and ambient electronica, accented by the haunting, languid guitars of another later Bowie associate, David Torn. The sweeping, classically-influenced “The Steppes of Mora” taps into the grandeur of John Barry, while the percussive, dynamics infused “Ostinato for Piano, Percussion, Strings and Electronics” -- an improvisational ode to Debussy “Claude’s Clouds” -- showcase James’ passion for contemporary classical composition.

Grammy-winning arranger Gil Goldstein wrote the elegant cello and accordion arrangement to complement James’ piano on “The Sad Waltz.” James credits Andy Snitzer’s arrangement skills on “How Can I Change Your Mind?” which is rendered first as an elegant ambient, wordless vocal meditation. Snitzer likewise arranged the brass elements of the elegant and soaring, gospel/blues tinged closing track “Guardian Angel,” composed as a tribute to Elton John.

James’ career has included a fascinating double musical life beginning in the 1990s. As a pianist, composer and producer, he recorded three acclaimed pop and new age-influenced albums as half of the duo Val Gardena, scoring the Top 10 single “Northern Lights.” During this time, James was also a high-powered music executive, driving PolyGram’s International Marketing strategy in the years before the company was acquired by Universal.

Later promoted to President of PolyGram Classics and Jazz and in 1999, CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz, he oversaw the world’s largest and most successful classical and jazz label group while working with, and signing everyone from Luciano Pavarotti, The Three Tenors, Renée Fleming, Lang Lang, Chris Botti, Elvis Costello and Andrea Bocelli. He was executive producer on some of the most successful albums of the past 25 years, including Sting’s On a Winters Night, Gladiator (soundtrack), The Boy from Oz featuring Hugh Jackman and the Grammy-winning Broadway Cast recordings of Wicked and Spamalot. In true “dream come true” fashion, the last album James signed at Universal was the 2010 Elton John/Leon Russell dual album, The Union.

In this new era as an independent artist, James owns all his masters and music publishing; he is represented by Sands Foley Entertainment. For more information on The Sad Waltz, music licensing, or to hire Christopher James as a composer or producer, please contact Paul Foley at 615.964.7134 or via email to

For radio promotion copies, please contact Ed and Stacey Bonk at

The Sad Waltz is available now at all fine music retailers, including iTunes and Amazon.


Paul Foley
Paul Foley Entertainment
email us here

"How Can I Change Your Mind" from The Sad Waltz by Christopher James