When I first met Jamal in the autumn of 2002, I was much like everyone else in the world, believing that a Bassist held a important, although lesser role in a musical group, and that it was the normal place of the Bassist and the Drummer to keep ‘the beat and timing’ for the lead guitarist and the vocalist. All the Bass Solos I had ever heard were just variations of a normal "Bass Riff", almost a mirror of a drum beat, and those solos were boring and all similar. They never really got my interest or excitement going. That was before I met Jamal and first heard his music. I was stunned to the point of requiring to sit down, my jaw hung open, and stayed that way until the 20 minutes of music stopped. Yes, it was real music, with intricate and melodious lines that intertwined and caught my imagination, much like a piece from Mozart or Beethoven would. I was truly awestruck. I had never heard sounds like that come from a Bass before, let alone from a Solo Musician who somehow was able to play as if there was an entire orchestra available right there with him to back him up. It amazed me then, and continues to amaze me now.
Jamal is a Solo Instrumentalist, born with a profound hearing loss, who has developed his own innovative style of playing multiple layers of melody at the same time. Growing up in a world where casual speech surrounded him as rhythmic tones and cadences, he developed his sense of music in an attempt to find a way to better communicate his thoughts and emotions to others. To this day, he says that "words don't mean sh*t."
In his search for this better way to communicate, he began with the Violin in grade school, moved through various band instruments, even including the Trombone, before finding his musical home...the Bass. This traditional musical background, combined with his earliest memory being that of a car crash, has allowed Jamal to be meditative, melodious, and serene in one moment, to suddenly spin a full 180 into a sound that kicks you in the gut and leave you scrambling to find your jaw somewhere in the rubble that was once your mind. What you hear is how he played it. Jamal insists that the music be human, full of passion and emotion, at times without any regard to meter or tempo. There is no denying that Jamal's music comes from another realm, and that not everyone who hears it is prepared for its impact. His music comes from deep within; a product of the universe, that has realized itself through its music, and offered back to the world in a manner in which we might understand and connect to.
Although once described as sounding like "Jaco on Acid", Jamal was influenced and is inspired by artists such as Beethoven, Ornette Coleman, Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Flea, Mike Watt, Orr Didi, Angelo Moore, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Django Reinhardt, Al DiMeola, Ronnie Montrose, and Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
Jamal, at 41, is now emerging from his self-induced sabbatical from the public with his totally unique and innovative style for the Free-Jazz genre. His music often evokes strong emotions in many a listener, creating the desire to get in touch with their own inner muse. Jamal has a 'no rules...just express yourself!' attitude when it comes to just about everything in life. It is this love of life, his passion, and his own artistic expression that comes through his music. Jamal has taken the Bass out of the Musical Box it has been kept in, and turned that role on its head. In Jamal's own words..."I don't play the role...I play the Instrument. Self-Expression is Pure Unfettered Freedom".