New Orleans drummer and singer Jamison Ross is a musical alchemist. He takes equal parts past and present sounds with rhythm and melody and creates jazz magic.
Ross performs Wednesday in the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts. The performance is part of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and River City Jazz Coalition's Jazz Listening Room series. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, plus fees.
Ross, 29, began finding success in music at an early age. The drummer, whose debut release “Jamison” was nominated for a Grammy for best jazz vocal album in 2015, attended music academies from age 11.
“I grew up in a musical family, but my mom said that if I wanted to be a professional musician, I needed to go to school for it," Ross said.
Originally accepted as a trumpet student, Ross would sneak into the percussion studio to play drums after hours. He expected detention when he was caught one night, but instead, the school moved him into the drummers curriculum.
“An environment of high-level musicianship at a young age is contagious,” Ross said. “I got into jazz with Duke Ellington and big band music. Everything started unveiling from there.”
He moved from his native Florida to New Orleans in 2011 to attend a jazz master’s program at University of New Orleans. Already established as a touring musician, Ross stretched his chops across music scenes and genres in the Crescent City.
“It opened my palette and allowed me to work with a lot of people,” he said. “New Orleans is the origin of all American music: jazz, funk, blues, zydeco. ... It’s America’s gift to the world. I came here to soak up the lineage not just of jazz but of all American music.”
Soon, Ross was working with some of the city’s most notable and fabled veterans. He toured with Jon Cleary, Jon Batiste (now the band leader on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert"), and Dr. John. Big as the appearances alongside these legends are, Ross knows that the mix of education, respect and looking to the future are key to modern music.
“The beautiful thing about historical reverence and forward thinking is that you take them both, and together, they keep the tradition of American music moving forward,” he said.
The Jazz Listening Room featuring Jamison Ross
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge
Cost: $10, plus fees