A new name and voice to these ears and eyes, but mark my words, the Floridian born singer/drummer Jamison Ross has a promising future ahead on this second recording (hIs debut, ‘Jamison’, dating from 2015) that showcases his understated take on standards and a few original compositions which reveal a potential major talent for the future. in fact, Ross was recipient of the Monk International Jazz Award in 2012 for his drumming prowess. The softly spoken delivery may remind one of the young Al Jarreau, but this singer has a penchant for both jazz and nu-soul and is adaptable enough to operate in blues and even funk idioms. His influences include Marvin Gaye in orchestral jazz mode as on a rare 1964 Motown album, When I’m alone I cry’ [editor only – I’ve been after this on CD and think it includes ‘Love for sale], while his all-time favourite singer is Lee Dorsey, and he regularly performs live in that city which is steeped in the history of blues and jazz.
The opener is a breezy, New Orleans influenced groove reading of an Allen Toussaint opus, ‘A mellow good time’, and the collective chanting in the chorus is a real treat. Multi-keyboardist Chris Dunn serves as co-producer with Ross and their range of influences is impressive. His voice is ideally suited to an interpretation of Mose Allison’s, ‘Everybody’s crying mercy’, with a restrained piano solo. Pianist Chris Pattishall comes to the fore on a work our of, ‘Don’t go to strangers’, a number that Chaka Khan memorably covered with Rufus on their reunion album. Emotionally invested soulfulness is an apt description of Ross’ cover of Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill’s, ‘My ship’. Of the originals, there is a strong nu-soul feel that permeates, ‘Unspoken’, again delivered as a down tempo vehicle. Original compositions will improve with age, but already on the Latin inflections of, ‘Safe in the arms of love’, his writing talents are beginning to bear fruit. Soul-jazz singers are relatively rare creatures these days. Al Jarreau, Jean Carn and Phyllis Hyman all emerged in the 1970’s while Anita Baker was a star in the making from the early 1980’s onwards. Could Jamison Ross be the next in that esteemed lineage? Recent live performances early in 2018 have included a five night residency tribute to Nina Simone.