Three years ago, Jamison Ross won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition as best drummer. The Florida native now released his debut album and not only shows his drum chops, but also his talent as singer, producer, and composer.
With “Deep Down In Florida”, he starts out on a bluesy note with a song that would have been a perfect vehicle for Gregory Porter as well. The very joyful instrumental “Martha’s Prize”, written by the great Cedar Walton (from his 1996 album “Composer”), features Alphonso Horne III on trumpet and Chris Pattishall on piano. Both stick to the very positive and upbeat feel of the original. It is one of the better Walton compositions for sure.
Jamison’s soulful vocals come to the fore on his own “Emotions” which starts out like a “Poinciana”/Ahmad Jamal kind of tune and later turns into a cute Soul/Jazz number with a fine sax solo by Dayve Stewart. Jamison’s vocals at times resemble those of Peabo Bryson. With a little more twist and edge. And he delivers a very sympathetic version of the Gary McFarland tune “Sack Full Of Dreams”.
I think the choice of material is quiet interesting and diverse. The Eddie Harris composition “Set Us Free”, from the Harris/Les McCann 1971 LP “Second Movement”, is a welcome diversion here which also features the guitar of Rick Lollar. Jamison even manages to come up with new twists on the arrangements for the often-heard “My One And Only Love” which has Jonathan Batiste on piano (he also did the arrangement with Jamison) and which gets a new, soulful treatment.
We also get a beautiful interpretation of Carmen Lundy‘s sublime “These Things You Are To Me”. It is a reminder of Carmen’s ability to write timeless songs and the arrangement here with a nice guitar solo shows respect and honesty for the original. There is too much fooling around though on “Jazz” and “Epiphany” which didn’t really catch fire. And to include two parts of the cheesy “Bye Bye Blues” which I never really liked, unfortunately makes me want to forget the last 15 minutes of this otherwise succeeding debut.