When Jamison Ross enthralled the audience in Delhi with his unusual music
He's casting a spell on the world with his effortless fusion of the two cardinal constituents of music - rhythm and harmony. His compositions have the precision of a metronome and have enough room for imaginative improvisation. So when American drummer-vocalist and Grammy nominee Jamison Ross played at One Golden Mile at the culmination of Jazz India Circuit's 2017-18, he introduced many in the Capital to his unusual combinations of instrument and style. His powerful vocals are a result of growing up in a family deeply rooted in music. With a singer-pianist for a father and his grandfather and uncle being musically inclined, Ross started singing when he was three-years-old, heavily influenced by the gospel he heard all around.
Unsurprisingly, he picked up piano at the age of five, before taking up drumming at 11. "The drums have always been around and it was an organic progression to add drums to my vocals. Growing up around music, it wasn't about any one instrument but about music being a part of my life," he says.
Though he pursued education in jazz drumming, he says he has always approached it with a melodic sense, thanks to his singing background. "The concept of rhythm and melody played off each other for years and now it's progressed to be a part of how I do things. I explore the combination of rhythm and melody, but studying jazz as a drummer morphed itself in a unique way because I'm more of a soul vocalist. When you mix my voice with my jazz drumming, you get this interesting mix of improvisation where I sing and play the drums in different styles yet together," he explains.
"I didn't grow up in the 90s when jazz wasn't popular. But jazz was perfect for my drumming foundation as the genre allows one to be able to express oneself," he adds. While drumming was a product of studying, the vocals were a result of his upbringing, taking him back to the music he "comes from", reflecting his history.
But life changed for Ross after his Grammy nomination in 2015. "The Grammy was as a vocalist, which put me on the radar as a singer. But the goal now is to get people to accept me as both," says Ross, who even played the bass in college.
Speaking about the increasing electronic sounds in the compositions today, he says, "I'm not against electronics, but you have to understand how to make music from its basic inception because rhythm, harmony and the basic characteristics of music are still the same."
"Even though you might use software that will make getting from point A to point B faster, the greatest music has been made by people who understand how to really create moments with music because it's all about creating moments with music."
The 30-year-old is now set to record a new album with Grammy winners Snarky Puppies in August, along with touring for the two years with his latest record, titled All For One.