James Chance and the Contortions  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

James Chance and the Contortions was a short-lived musical group led by saxophonist and vocalist James Chance. They were one of the original punk jazz groups of the New York no wave music scene.


Recording history

Their first recording, credited solely as Contortions, was on the 1978 compilation, No New York, produced by Brian Eno. The following year, two albums were issued almost simultaneously on ZE Records; Buy and Off White under the moniker James White and the Blacks. The same musicians recorded both records, though none are credited on the album cover.

Band members

Original Contortions guitarist Pat Place went on to found the group Bush Tetras. Georges Scott played with Lydia Lunch and Michael Paumgarten in 8-Eyed Spy. Shortly thereafter, guitarist Jody Harris formed Raybeats with Don Christensen, George Scott III and Pat Irwin. Keyboardist Adele Bertei formed the Bloods, after which she released a solo record, Little Lives, in 1988. In 1979 George Scott toured with John Cale, as documented on the album Sabotage Live. Scott died of a heroin overdose on August 5, 1980. Some of the members of James White and the Blacks - notably Joseph Bowie, later separated from Chance and formed the band Defunkt.

On November 30, 2010 James Chance, Pat Place, Don Christensen, Jody Harris, Adele Bertei, and Robert Aaron reunited as James Chance and the Contortions at Le Poisson Rouge for a single performance. Robert Aaron wasn't an original member, but frequently collaborated with Chance.


  • No New York (1978)
  • Buy (1979)
  • Paris 1980 Live Aux Bains Douches (1980)
  • Live in New York (1981)
  • Soul Exorcism (1991)
  • Lost Chance (1995)
  • White Cannibal (2000)


  • Carlo McCormick, The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, Princeton University Press, 2006
  • Marc Masters, No Wave, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, pp. 74-95

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "James Chance and the Contortions" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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