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James began playing classical guitar at age 7. He attended the QLD Conservatorium of Music, studying classical & jazz guitar, graduating in 1992. He was the winner of the Ike Isaacs International Jazz Guitar Award (1997).

James has worked with a variety of bands and soloists, including Barney McAll, Joe Chindamo, Ian Chaplin, Allan Browne, Paul Williamson, Doug DeVries, Malcolm McNeil, Dirty but Happy, Ian Date, Karl Hird, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Peter Knight, Mark Fitzgibbon, Michelle Nicolle, Dubble Dub, Decoy & Los Cabrones.

As well as playing or recording with such diverse artists as British guitar virtuoso Martin Taylor, Joe Camilleri, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & New York film composer Howard Shore.

The James Sherlock Trio is featured in the new ABC TV Jazz Series "The Pulse", 13 September 2001.

The James Sherlock Trio was formed in 1995, with bassist, Howard Cairns & drummer Andy Fitzgibbon. Drummer Tony Floyd joined the trio in 1998. The trio regularly perform in Melbourne, particularly at "Bennetts Lane".