James died Friday night at Mercy Hospital after struggling with complications from asthma. That's according to his longtime girlfriend, Danita Lyburn.
James was originally from Pittsburgh and played with jazz greats including Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt and many others.
He was a longtime mainstay at Philadelphia jazz clubs, including Ortlieb's Jazzhaus and Chris' Jazz Cafe.
Funeral arrangements have not been set.