“All for One, One for All” – no, we’re not talking about The Three Musketeers – the motto dictates the sounds for composer, arranger, vocalist, and drummer Jamison Ross. A strong believer of “The love you need comes from me and the love I need comes from you”, the Jacksonville, Florida native advocates messages of humanity through the medium of jazz. Having taken the capital city by storm at Jazz India Circuit this March, the musician says, “I hope to come back!” As we delve deep into the makings of Jamison Ross, the humble gent gets talking about the connection between music and religion, the power of joy, and #OurCity.
“Growing up, in church, music was never played without reason,” shares the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate. Influenced by the singing in his grandfather’s church, Jamison Ross developed a connection between sound and soul. “Every song has its own aroma and its own moments,” he shares. Amping up the beats with a moving spirit, the ascendant drummer gained worldwide acclaim after being featured in the Tribeca Film Festival winning documentary Chops. “I was very young at the time, but the experience fortified my musical career,” reminisces Ross. Armed with a vision of bringing joy into music and a belief that it can inspire, heal, and reveal, he set out to fortify his art with the element of education. Pursuing a B.A. in Jazz Studies at Florida State University, Ross trained under renowned jazz pianist Marcus Roberts. With a guidance that seamlessly brought together respect for the lineage of music and intellect to grow from it, the percussionist went on to participate in the distinguished Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Residency Program. Convened at Kennedy Centre, fate held something more grander than symposiums for Ross at the program. As his sounds reached the legendary American jazz singer, Carmen Lundy, it was crystal clear that the path ahead was one of exponential growth. A month later, Jamison Ross was performing in Ukraine as part of Lundy’s band, and tours across the world soon became the norm.
Steered by emotion and motivated by smiles, Jamison Ross went on to win the 2012 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drums Competition. “I don’t play just for the sake of playing. For me, it’s about emotions and harnessing those emotions through sounds,” he shares. Practice or performance, the reason, the moment, and the emotion act as Polaris for the performer. The direction forward involved an amalgamation of the melodic nature of the voice and the rhythmic nature of the drums. “It just naturally happened. I always approached drums with a melodic perspective and once I incorporated singing, I took inspiration from drummers all around me,” adds Ross. The combination of vocal and drums and of this foray into singing with winning the competition landed the ace musician a deal with Concord Music Group (CMG). An independent music company based in Beverly Hills, California, it was CMG’s record company and label, Concord Jazz, that released Jamison Ross’ debut album in 2015 – Jamison. “The album was just me doing some songs. I simply started recording. It was all very untethered,” he says about the inspiration behind his eponymous debut album.
With Rick Lollar on guitar, Corcoran Holt on bass, Dayve Stewart on saxophone, Chris Pattishall on piano, Cory Irvin on organ, and Alphonso Horne III on trumpet, and Jon Batiste on deck for four dazzling performances, Jamison was nominated for the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. “I was shocked. It was my first album!” recalls the composer helming the band. In the ensuing three years, Ross has worked with giants like Wes Anderson, Jimmy Heath, and Ellis Marsalis. However, his spiritual approach towards music remains intact. “I still perceive music the same way as before,” he shares. Offering an honest and organic expression of humanity through music, the artist released his sophomore album in 2018 – All For One. Second chapter of Jamison, he shares, “the album showcases who I am and who I was in the moments passed.” A reflection of Jamison Ross as a father and husband. A reflection of the state of America. A reflection of a personal revelation that, ”we all have the capacity to love with empathy in a deeper way”. All For One offers an experience that takes listeners a level deeper into Jamison’s ethos.
As the soulful singer gets set for his never-to-miss pre-performance ritual of lip buzzes before yet another smashing show, we bid adieu, but not before he shares his thoughts on the capital city, “New Delhi, India, I love it!”
Featured Image Courtesy: Orlin Nikolov for Sofia Music Enterprises