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  • Cy White

Jamael Dean: Primordial Waters

Something unreal came over me when the first notes of Jamael Dean's Primordial Waters slid through my earphones. It was a feeling like being lifted. Liberated from a colonized mind of self-loathing, self-pity, fear. This album, Dean's official first, is the catalyst. One of a few albums in 2021 that allowed me to pour into myself from the musical depth alone.

This is jazz. No surprise that so much of my favorite music came from this genre in 2021. That is to say jazz is the root of everything. It is what has pushed so much of the musical landscape forward in recent years. Yes, mainstream music owes much of its pulse to R&B, but where do you think that nuance and alternative thinking came from? When we get down to it, down to its primordial essence, as it were, jazz has steeped in the water of its traditions for so long that it's now been able to come to us full-bodied. A robust flavor that pulls from the unapologetic boisterousness of free jazz while holding strong to jazz's foundations.

Primordial Waters is the epitome of everything that is and ever was about jazz. All its madness, its arrogance, its bravado. The essence of creation and creativity. With his debut, Dean has given listeners a peek into the unedited soul. How even in times of recklessness, there is beauty. There is something that calls and aches and yearns and reaches. It's in the crash of the cymbals and the heavy thud of the kick drum. It's in the jumpstart pop of the snare when the horns scream out their passions. It's in the poise and heart of the vocals when they reveal themselves. Approaching calmly but always in synch with the instrumentation that surrounds them. It's in the breath of the piano, the sigh between the notes when the keys hit the boards.

Jamael Dean truly created one of the most brilliant pieces of music in 2021. And he did so quietly, insofar as this type of clash-bang-clatter can be quiet. What a blessing and gift to be able to, if just for a few moments, go back to our purest parts and see how our humanness is all we need to be truly free.

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