A TOP RECORDING OF 2015. Jamison is the debut of a significant talent. Winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, the singularly entertaining Jamison Ross is a drummer of enormous presence and a irrepressible bandleader, judging from his album release show I attended at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in June. He also sings.
Interestingly, his vocal talent was nowhere to be heard at the Monk competition — he won solely on his beats and rhythmic ingenuity, but when it came time to enter the studio, his triumph of percussion over voice was reconciled and here they bloom. He credits his family, specifically his mother who urged him to move beyond playing in his church choir as a younger man to expand his singing to a wide audience. The brisk Jamison plays like an open book on Ross’ contagious personality, which makes for an instant connection.
This exuberant release opens with Technicolor fireworks on a vivid Muddy Waters cover, “Deep Down in Florida” that pops and shimmies on evocative soul and blues rhythms. Like singer Gregory Porter, Ross has a big, deep voice that’s operatic in its storytelling style, yet peaks and dips fluidly with an emotionally tangible vibe. He’s a savvy instrumentalist (Cedar Walton’s “Martha’s Prize” is an indelible swing tune that Ross tailors to his strengths), yet he clearly relishes soul-jazz and bop when he sings and plays on Eddie Harris and Les McCann’s “Set Us Free” and again on the lush romantic ballad, “My One And Only Love.” The album is propelled on Ross’ talent and that of his band (notably pianist Chris Pattishall and bassist Corcoran Holt), and he saves the best for last — the closer “Bye, Bye Blues” is a rousing, church revival-like number that soars on Ross’ star-making charisma and natural enthusiasm — it’s sure to be his signature tune. (12 tracks; 43 minutes) Listen here.