Jamison Ross, 30, is the bright young star of American jazz right now. A drummer and vocalist, Ross won the Thelonious Monk Jr international jazz competition award early on and his 2015 album Concord Jazz was nominated for a Grammy. Satish Padmanabhanmet him in New Delhi where he was the marquee performer at the Jazz India Circuit organized by Teamwork Art. Excerpts from the interview:
At a time when jazz is no long so cool, your calendar is absolutely packed this whole year. Is there a revival of sorts?
You know, music is in a tough time in general right now, it’s not just jazz. Being inside music and creating art is a very difficult thing to do in the world today. It’s because everything right now is in a hyper-sensualised environment of social media, you know, of pop music. So creating art is something that can easily be lost in this day and time.
That being said, we are touring all over the place, I just put on a new record All For One that came out just two months ago. I believe that as a young musician in Jazz, it’s our goal to be just authentic, be honest with our perspective on music, standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us. Jazz is America’s classical music, it stands for something special to us, it’s our gift to the world. So to take it forward, we have to create moments with the music that allows for people to them, and also remember why jazz is special.
As you said, in this hyper-sensualised environment in music, how do you get youngsters interested in jazz.
By keeping it honest. That’s what I like to do. Keep it real. Talk about who you are, talk about what you do. If you do that you will naturally grab people, they will be engaged in your story. Once they are engaged into your story, they will buy into whatever you play music with. You mix your story with the true understanding of how to approach music and how to play it, with the honesty of who you are as the artist and people will gravitate towards you. It’s like a relationship. We put stories with the music. And in jazz the young generation has lost all of that. We don’t really put stories or concepts with true ideas to the music we make.