When people wonder how to call him – a singing drummer or a drumming singer, Jamison Ross has a short answer on this Jazz FM interview: “I prefer to think of myself as just a musician.” The young talented artist rose to fame winning as drummer the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, and next thing – he is also singing on his debut CD Jamison, that may bring him the Grammy Award in the Vocal Jazz Album category.
And before that… Music has always been around him. “It was part of my fabric, part of my everyday life,” says Jamison Ross who grew up with music at home and at church. Looking back, he values having lived in that environment as it now helps him naturally feel the emotional effect of music.
Add studying jazz at school, to understand how we now have one of the stars of the new generation. Having been playing and singing in church, like virtually everyone of his close family, Jamison was the only one to pursue music academically. He says he cannot thank his mother much enough for enrolling him in the arts programme.
Listening to a lot of soul music was the next influence that enriched Jamison Ross and became part of his artistic expression. When the moment came to define his “voice” in music, he thought of fusing it all together – the music he grew up with, the knowledge he gained, the practice he had with some of the greatest – vocalist Carmen Lundy – the first one to support him, then bass player Chrisrtian McBride. “I came up with the concept of the melodic nature of the voice and the rhythmic nature of the drums. Next thing you know – I was singing and playing drums.” – Jamison explains.
But he is also a composer and a band leader – and finds his most comfortable place in the latter role: “That’s because I love music and am all about the moment, and being able to detect the moment when it happens.” And yet another “place” in music that he must define as his standing – between replicating the tradition and pushing the music forward. “I feel the only way I can stretch to the future is because I understand the beginning and how it all worked out. If you really understand the lineage, you will naturally never forget it, and it will inform what you try to create for the future. Understanding the lineage helps keep you grounded when you start to push your music forward.”
Both musicians and listeners look up to Jamison Ross. He does contribute: as a leader of the young jazz generation – by being versatile and knowing the lineage, as a leader for the listeners – by sharing his dream for the world. “Art is about the message. The message for me is all about utilizing the music for something greater. You sing and play these songs from a deeper place – not only because you like them, but also beacause you have the ability to have a very tremendous effect on people,” Jamison said on Jazz FM. And he gives an example from his debut album – with the song Sack Full of Dreams: “That song touches me. There is so much going on in our world and it would be great if the world could be like that. The song says how much I want to care, to share all of my dreams for the world. Can they learn to understand the world of love that I am dreaming? That’s a message! When you sing and play it from your heart, people can really understand it and think twice about some things – negative or positive. It’s all about positivity and love in regards to that.”
You can listen to the interview with Jamison Ross by Jazz FM’s Tanya Ivanova and Svetoslav Nikolov by using the Audio button. Jamison Ross is at the Sofia Live Clib at 9 p.m. on the 12th of February. The concert is part of the Club Music Jam programme presented by Sofia Music Enterprises with the media partnership of Jazz FM.