Born: October 23, 1979 Primary Instrument: Piano
The first time I sat at the piano, it was literally like something magical happened. Maybe it sounds corny, I dont know; but it was one of those life-changing experiences for me. I knew I had to do this for the rest of my life.
Jamba (a.k.a. Jammes Castro) isnt given to hyperbole. After his childhood introduction to the piano he promptly set about dedicating his life to the instrument with such a fierce commitment that now, still only in his mid 20s, the New York based singer/songwriter/musician has amassed the kind of credentials seasoned artists twice his age would be proud to have on their resume.
A lot of great things started to happen me as a teenager when I left New York, explains Jamba, who was born in a small town in Brazil, just outside Sao Paolo, to a musician father and hairdresser mother.
First, I moved to South Florida where I played in a lot of different bands and ended up meeting the bassist Abraham Laboriel (George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones). He really gave me a lot of advice and direction and actually told people that I was one of his favorite young pianists.
With that ringing endorsement Jamba, began to secure steady session work, relocating to Nashville, where he was mentored by legendary producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, Michael Bolton, Al Jarreau).
Michael and I became really good friends, and he taught me so much about production. I mean, hes had some of the biggest hits in the history of pop music, so obviously I was a sponge and just was honored that he would take me under his wing. Omartian, a skilled pianist himself, was quick to hone in on Jambas ability, not just as a keyboard player, but as a composer and vocalist of distinct nuance. He encouraged Jamba to purse a solo artist career and even went as far as recording and producing the demos of his young protégée.
With Omartian singing his praises Jamba went on to secure work with many of the producers industry friends, landing the steady gig as disco icon, Donna Summers main pianist/keyboard player while recording with many of Nashvilles best known producers. Fellow Nashville resident, Take 6's Mark Kibble, with whom Jamba has worked, described him as the new Greg Phillinganes (mainstay keyboardist for Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton to name just a few). That was an incredible thing for him to say - Ive admired Gregs work for so long; not just his technical ability but his ability to feel the pocket makes his work so special. It was a huge compliment! responds Jamba.
Jamba could have easily settled into the comfortable producer/writer musician lifestyle of many of his successful friends, but in the fall of 2005, he decided to trade the security of Nashville and relocate to his native New York, where he knew his jazz inflected solo work would have a more favorable reception than with the country music capital of Nashville. I know musicians are meant to go where the work is, and in Nashville I could have certainly lived well. Its a great place to live, to raise a family and it has an established music scene, but I just felt it was the safe option, Jamba explains. I wanted to challenge myself musically, try different things and pursue the solo artist thing, which is why I decided to move back to New York.
Fortunately, Jambas reputation preceded him to the Big Apple, immediately landing him some high profile session work. He also wasted no time in throwing himself head first into the ever effervescent music scene.
One of the things I like about New York is the musical diversity. Its always been here and thats why Ill do live gigs with a whole heap of different, interesting acts just to keep my chops up and challenge myself, playing either keys or bass.
Jambas fully mixed and mastered demos from co-producer Michael Omartian, songs such as the mellifluous, embracing, 'Goodbye', the beatific, meandering 'Always You', and bitter-sweet 'Second Chance' not only display the Midas touch of a skilled young pianist at the top of his game, but a sensitive, supple tenor, breathing expression and emotion to every sung syllable, writes Jeff Lorez, freelance writer for Billboard Magazine. His single, 'I Like You Like That', produced by music industry veteran James Hellman is a sweet little bossa nova that exudes the aspects of a true classic with worldwide appeal.
I remember when I was just in my teens I was besotted by this record, Standards In Norway by Keith Jarrett. I remember thinking, Wow this guy actually gets to make music like this for a living. I would love to be able to do that one day. Its a real blessing to be able to wake up every day and make music, express yourself and love what you do. Just as my challenge at thirteen was to emulate that Keith Jarrett record and thats something Im sure Ill never achieve, by the way I love the fact that when youre doing music, whether its writing, playing, performing, composing or singing, everyday is a challenge because theres always room to improve.
Jamba sings and plays with an intense intimacy that immediately captures your attention. If Always You and Second Chance are a leading indicator of the what the world is to expect from him, break out the fire hoses!
-Mike Hancock, Da Jazz Radio
The depth of Jamba's talent rivals that of any artist making music today. In a manner that only a very select few achieve, Jamba effortlessly exudes sophistication without pretentiousness, intimacy without falseness, and musicality without inaccessibility. I make music 16 hours everyday - Jamba is one of the only artists I would ever choose to listen to in my free time.
-Scott Jacoby, Grammy winning Producer
Jamba is incredible, a star in the making. His musical style and stage presence hypnotize you. He's a musical genius.
Denise Jordan Walker, Candid Jazz and Conversations, Candid JAZZBLAST
He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with them all. After 27 years in the music business, its hard to get excited about anything, but Jamba is a phenomenal talent.
-James Hellman, Music Industry Veteran
November 2006 - www.juliansflight.com
Music is one of the most profound ways of expressing a profound sentiment, a state of mind...a human condition...especially the condition of the heart...leftover memories or unresolved entanglements still stirring within us must follow the course of Time. Paradise or otherwise, an Artist must dismantle the fragments piece by piece, only to put it back together or to use the shovel of oblivion and bury it all… bury it out of sight.
In this edition of our Artist Spotlights, we present to you the words and music of Jammes Castro a.k.a. Jamba, pianist/vocalist/songwriter whose young, but storied career had him crossing paths or currently working with some of the industry heavy hitters. A fateful meeting with bass great Abraham Laboriel, chain reacted and netted him the experience of Michael Omartian's tutelage. Omartian, producer to artists such as Christopher Cross, Al Jearreau, Rod Stewart…Donna Summer (who had Jamba as her main pianist/keyboardist while recording in Nashville) encouraged Jamba to go the solo artist route…subsequently landing him back in his native NYC, where he now pursues his budding solo career.
Lighting up our Spotlights are two songs from Jamba, which can easily skyrocket him into the ranks of John Legend, Norah Jones, or any artist past or present, who possess that inherent sensitivity to chordal nuances, and of course the beauty of melody. The Autumnal atmosphere of Say Goodbye…a recognition of the bittersweet inevitable with lookbacks and a glimmer of Rendezvous in the future. Can one really be so brave, or is it because felt songs have that fortifying quality to conquer such crossroads moments? You tell us Jamba…tell us it's alright…tell us the way of the Seasons.
Second Chance, is a tug of war between what still stings and what you can't let go, then ultimately �what's left standing…loves supposed to be all you need…love will bring you back to me…with only a…second chance. For those of you also finding yourselves riveted to Jamba's playing�his solo bridge reflects the touch and go mood of this track at 3:10 to 3:20, he pulls off two beautiful changes...a slight Jarrettism indeed, as Keith is a driving force icon in his music.
Time to light up the fire…as the Flight lays over on a chilly eve this Fall. Headphones…an easy chair…a glass of red. Acknowledgments for this feature: Brau, Paul (The Hague), Cindy da Silva, Manager, da Silva Artists, and of course he who played and sang�Jamba.