James Casey, Esteemed Saxophonist of Trey Anastasio Band, Passes Away at 40

by Madonna

James Casey, a cherished and longstanding saxophonist within the Trey Anastasio Band, has tragically succumbed to his valiant fight against colon cancer at the tender age of 40. Born and raised in Phoenix, Casey’s journey led him to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and from there, he embarked on a musical odyssey that encompassed collaborations with the likes of Soulive and Lettuce. His vibrant talent also graced the stage alongside pop sensation Meghan Trainor during his tenure with TAB.

Trey Anastasio, the virtuosic leader of the band, took to social media to share his heartfelt sentiments:


“I’m heartbroken about the loss of our friend and bandmate James. My heart is with James’ mother and father, his beautiful wife Ayla, and with the rest of his amazing family.


James was a magnificent soul. His spirit and personality glowed. His playing was elegant, stormy, soulful and lyrical. He was a powerful and melodic improviser, and spot on when reading intricate charts. His tone was full and warm, his singing voice was beautiful. I loved harmonizing with James. His smile filled the room.


I’ll never forget the feeling of jousting with James on baritone sax and guitar. We would make eye contact and just go for it, diving into waves of sound together. Dark, scary, blues-filled jams. He was a force of nature. It felt like being in a tiny boat together in a huge storm in the middle of the ocean.

It’s impossible to describe the deep connection that James, Natalie, and Jen had as a horn section in TAB. It was a magical, once-in-a-lifetime section. Deep bonds of musicianship and friendship.

James’s connection with Ayla was indescribable. She poured her complete soul into caring for James throughout every second of his battle with cancer. James talked about how much it meant to him. All of James’ friends and family will be forever grateful to Ayla. All of us in the band loved seeing the two of them together. You could feel the deep love they had for each other. My heart is with Ayla today. We love you Ayla.

We all especially loved the nights on tour when James’ incredible family would come to shows. I loved seeing them laughing together in catering, or at soundcheck. James was a kind, loving, talented, and caring person, and a beautiful friend. His family completed that picture. James will be missed by all of us who loved him.

James persevered through his colon cancer battle for two years, and it was the honor of his career to release solo music and perform during that time. James brought joy to everyone around him and his legacy will live on, both through his music and the advocacy work that’s become so integral to him.

It was so important to James to help others avoid his fate – to learn the importance of early colon cancer screenings, know your family history, and be an advocate for your own health. When detected early, colon cancer is almost always curable. He shared his diagnosis publicly and illuminated his ongoing battle to raise awareness and help others.

James was a remarkable human being, beloved for his wit, humility, kindness and generosity. He will be dearly missed.”

James Casey’s musical legacy, punctuated by his soulful saxophone strains, will forever resonate through the melodies he shared with the world. In his pursuit of solo artistry during his cancer battle, he demonstrated an indomitable spirit and an unwavering commitment to raising awareness about early colon cancer screenings—a testament to his profound empathy and selflessness. The resonance of his musical notes will endure, while his remarkable personality, marked by humor, humility, and benevolence, remains etched in the hearts of all those who were touched by his presence.


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