(5 / 5)
Here’s a new name to me, but I am very, very glad to make his musical acquaintance. This is a blinking gorgeous album. Oh so soulful, a fantastic introduction to a sublimely versatile soul-jazz voice and innate phrasing to die for.
It straddles old school R&B, smooth soul with jazz – a double delight: retro and relevant vibe. Effortless soaring soulful pipes on this guy. Stevie Wonder must surely figure in his influences, and maybe the likes of Donnie Hathaway, George Benson and perhaps Mahalia Jackson.
Then when we get to the absolutely stunning track three, “Don’t Go To Strangers,” penned by Redd Evans, Arthut Kent and Dave Mann, and first recorded by The Orioles in 1954 and then Al Martino in the same year, we are in “other worldly” territory.
This song has had many covers, including Amy Winehouse, Etta James, Joni Mitchell, Paul Weller and the incomparable Dinah Washington. But this version on this record really is right up there, I can assure you. Like it was written by or for Jamison Ross, in fact.
Not only is it a killer song and a tight fit, but one of the very best vocals in the set. Channelling Nat King Cole and so damn good. Really is. A great singer can make a weak song better. A good song really good and a great song, awesome.
Think the latter statement here, for sure. But Chris Pattishall on piano is a star. True dat. Especially on this track. Must check out if he has released any solo stuff. He is the bacon to Jamison’s eggs. Sizzling too…
These 13 tracks open up with Allen Toussaint’s groove-soaked, New Orleans flavoured “A Mellow Good Time” which sets the tone for the quality and sheer class of what is in store here.
Rick Lollar’s crying guitar licks and Jamison’s ‘vocalese’ on the lyric-free zone that is the two minute and 22 seconds of the beautiful “Tears And Questions”, a bluesy affair, is a joy to have wash over you. Spine tingling, but about 10 minutes short for me! Penned by Jamison, as is the wonderful Curtis Mayfield/Bill Withers-style “Keep On”, which he wrote with Mr Lollar.
Ross and Lollar’s “Call Me” is a high spot, a commercial cut which has a pretty decent hook, but again taps into that gospel feel. You can hear the church in his voice, right across this record for sure. Brian McKnight comes to mind, as regards the cross-over sound Jamison has nailed, in relation to the spiritual side of things, but with major commercial appeal.
He is a 2012 Thelonius Monk International Jazz competition winner, a drummer. After winning the 2012 competition, Ross toured and recorded with a variety of esteemed jazz artists including singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, pianists Jonathan Batiste, Dr. John and Jon Cleary; and bassist Christian McBride.
His self titled debut album “Jamison”, dropped in 2015, nominated for a Grammy – and so we had to wait three years for this follow up. He was also member of Carmen Lundy’s band, featured on Lundy’s 2014 record “Soul to Soul”.
A drummer and tenor vocalist, delivering both sets of skills on this new album. “All For One” and on his debut. Both records offered a melting pot of styles; deeply marinated soul, jazz and blues – but this one focuses more on originals.
But the cover of “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy”, is a standout here. The 1968 Mose Allison song, which has had a good few covers including Bonnie Raitt. His own songs tend to talk about the deep love for his wife and daughter, and the unspoken bond between the three of them.
Fats Waller’s “Let’s Sing Again,” written by Gus Khan and Jimmy McHugh, sets Jamison’s soaring and heartfelt vocals accompanied solely by a gorgeous church style organ, and is a perfect way to close this sizzling and at times, astounding set.
There are singers and there is Jamison Ross. An authourative artist who deserves global acclaim – if there is any justice and if judged by this release and his God-given vocal instrument.
A real gold nugget of a find and with a talent as huge as his, if he never makes another record again, he really has nothing more to prove and surely this would go down in history as a classic of the future. He and this record are that good! Five big fat stars without a shadow of a doubt…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’