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Chops: Jamison Ross on Singing Behind the Kit

How exactly does Thelonious Monk Competition winner pull double duty as drummer and vocalist?

Jamison Ross (photo: Elton Anderson)
Jamison Ross (photo: Elton Anderson)

Winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Competition for Drums, Floridian Jamison Ross has recorded two albums of soulfully swinging jazz that feature both his in-the-pocket drumming and sweet, R&B-crooning vocals. A recent appearance at New York’s Jazz Standard found him directing the rhythm from his kit while singing over his fiery quartet like a contemporary Jackie Wilson.

“I’m not a trained singer, it just came upon me,” the 32-year-old Ross said after the gig, acknowledging that as a youth he sang in church and with his family, “but drums were always my first interest. I also played piano in my grandfather’s church, then in college I played bass gigs. I toured with Jon Batiste playing all of that.”

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Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef was once a jazz drummer; then he found religion and began writing about jazz rather than performing it. (He continues to air-drum jazz rhythms in front of his hi-fi rig and various NYC bodegas.) His reportage has appeared in Time Out, Modern Drummer, DownBeat, Stereophile, and Electronic Musician. Ken is the administrator of Facebook’s popular Jazz Vinyl Lovers group, and he reviews vintage jazz recordings on YouTube as Ken Micallef Jazz Vinyl Lover.