On Stage: Jamison Ross is a rising star in jazz world

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Jamison Ross

Jamison Ross, who is headlining a show on August 12 at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com), is one of the rising stars in the world of jazz.

He is a drummer, a composer, a Grammy Award nominee and the winner of many prestigious awards, including the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drums Competition.

He is also the member of an elite group of musicians that includes Buddy Miles, Levon Helm, Don Brewer, Don Henley, Dave Grohl, Ringo Starr, Sheila E., Micky Dolenz, Karen Carpenter and Phil Collins – musicians that are drummers who also sing.

When Ross took first place in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drums Competition in 2012, the Concord Jazz record label signed him to a recording deal. The label recognized his immense talent as a drummer.

The people at the label were unaware that Ross was also a top-flight vocalist. His debut disc in 2015 – “Jamison” – was an exhibition of his drumming and skill as a composer. It also was a showcase for his singing ability – a singing ability so strong it earned the young drummer a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

“I majored in jazz studies at Florida State University,” said Ross, during a phone interview last week as he travelled to a tour stop in New York City. “Most people at Florida State knew me as a singing drummer. I also majored in music business at FSU.

“Being a singing drummer has its difficult moments. I’ve always been a melodic drummer. And, I understand the technical ability of breathing and singing.”

When Ross wrapped up his undergrad studies in Tallahassee, he headed west along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans.

“I got my master’s degree in jazz studies at the University of New Orleans,” said Ross. “I really liked New Orleans so after I graduated with my master’s degree, I never left. The New Orleans music community has embraced me. When I won the Monk competition, I was still in grad school.”

Another big break for Ross was landing a gig as touring drummer for veteran jazz vocalist Carmen Lundy. That led to freelance work with such well-known artists as Jon Batiste, Marcus Roberts, Henry Butler, Ellis Marsalis, Billy Childs, and Jon Cleary.

Now, Ross is touring with his own band – hitting the road in support of his new album, “All For One.”

“I’ve been a sideman for years,” said Ross, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. “After a while, it was time for me to get my own band.

“I went to musicians I knew from Florida State University. My band has guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. This band has been together about six years now. All the guys on the road with me now played on the new album.”

“All For One” boasts a cast of musicians of whom Ross has developed a strong rapport from touring – pianist Chris Pattishall, guitarist Rick Lollar (both of whom played on the 2015 debut), bassist Barry Stephenson, and Cory Irvin on Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes.

“I cut ‘All For One’ in 2015 and 2016 in New Orleans — at The Parlor Recording Studio,” said Ross. “It was a fun record to make. It was the culmination of a lot of touring – a lot of time on the road.”

The disc perfects the intoxicating chemistry of the 29-year-old’s debut, which was a swirling blend of blues, jazz, R&B and soul.

According to Ross, “‘All For One’ is literally the second chapter. There’s no deep way to view ‘All For One’ other than it being the second chapter of me revealing myself as a man who loves as a father, husband, friend, and brother and as an artist who brings that love to other people while receiving love from my audience.”

Ross will bring his latest show back to Philly – a city he has played four times previously with shows at Chris’ Jazz Café, the Kimmel Center and South.

“We’re going to be playing a lot of the music from the new album at Johnny Brenda’s,” said Ross. “I do an all-encompassing show. It’s a merging of jazz and soul.”

Video link for Jamison Ross — https://youtu.be/FBsyhk30GT0.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s, which has Mykal Kilgore and Zach LoPresti’s Boom Squad as opening acts, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

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