For the last 20 years Colonna has been a frequent guest conductor throughout the United States where he has premiered many of his own compositions. As a conductor, Colonna has been praised by many composers for his meticulous attention to their work. Jim released a CD with the LCCC Wind Symphony and Jazz Band, Wind Dancer , in 1994. Norman Dello Joio, Sammy Nestico, and H. Robert Reynolds have granted critical acclaim for this release of their music. “The Wind Symphony's performance of my variants will be placed among those of the very fine,” stated Norman Dello Joio. “We can help change the world one note at a time,” said Sammy Nestico.
As a trumpet performer, he performed with the 113th Army Band, the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra, UNT Wind Symphony, MSU Wind Symphony, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, the Night Flight and Jim Colonna Big Band, Voices of Unity, and notable artists' Patti Austin, Connie Francis and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
In 1996, he began his career as a composer and has composed more than 16 original compositions, of which 12 have been published by Larry Daehn Music, C-Alan Publications, and Masters Music. He has received many commissions to create unique works for large concert ensembles, most recently a commission from the Michigan State University Symphony Band and New England Music Camp titled "7". His work, “Fanfare Antiphonal vox Gabrielli”, is one of seven featured fanfares by the Dallas Wind Symphony for their 2009-2010 season. His compositions have been performed at CBDNA, Midwest, and the WASBE conferences as well as internationally in the UK , Canada , Japan , Belgium , and Finland. He has been recognized by fellow composers including Cindy McTee, Michael Colgrass, Michael Torke, Joel Puckett, Steven Bryant and Jack Stamp. Torke remarks on Illusions (a work for winds and percussion): “Mr. Colonna's music is artistic even though composed for young high school band, his music is honest and deserves repeat performances.” Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Michael Colgrass states: “Illusions is a wonderful addition to the band world, it contains magnificent scoring throughout.” Currently Jim is transcribing a work by Gyorgy Ligeti for concert band, and a new work, also for band, based on Beatles Lyrics.