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Jamire Williams: Sensitive, Singular, Strong

The emergence of a promising young drummer and his group, ERIMAJ

Jamire Williams (3rd from right) and ERIMAJ
Jamire Williams

Jamire Williams, the rare drummer on the jazz scene these days who’s heavily invested in leading his own band, says that he plays “social music.” This makes sense-every band is a social unit, and he’s clearly concerned with societal problems. But the 28-year-old’s group, ERIMAJ, goes in the opposite direction: It’s antisocial music, or at least reticent. This puts it on relatively untrodden terrain in contemporary jazz, and gives it the bite of something fresh.

If you’ve heard much of Frank Ocean, the laconically ruminative singer who’s trying to teach R&B fans how to see deeper into their own hearts by staring at their shoes, then you’re already on your way toward figuring out what ERIMAJ is all about. The band’s recently released debut album, Conflict of a Man (Don’t Cry), which features yearning vocals from Chris Turner on most tracks, scans like a diary full of regretful sentences that never find their way to completion. More than anything, you hear the sound of someone scraping for meaning in a world where digitization and corporatization leap forward unbounded. What suffers in this environment, among much else, is the wellspring of spirit that ought to feed art.

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