JOEL -- An old upright piano. Not the most valuable, nor the most beautiful instrument ever created, but it was passed down from his late grandmother Carol. And it was perfect for a five year old to hammer out Vince Guaraldi's “Linus and Lucy” theme.
For Joel, it was the beginning of a lifelong love of music.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, “J” was attracted to the percussive sounds of the keyboard at an early age. He began to study more seriously while attending high school at Berkeley Independent Studies—a stone's throw from Berkeley High and its prestigious jazz program, where he soon enrolled in one of the beginning classes. He was able to further develop his fundamentals at the Oaktown Jazz Workshop under the guidance of Director Khalil Shaheed and pianists Kevin Stewart and Rudy Mwongozi.
A mid-year move 200 miles north to Redding, CA landed him in an academic atmosphere where he had the opportunity to participate in jazz vocal group backup, choir, concert and jazz bands. At Enterprise High in Redding, he earned numerous solo and group awards, including a Downbeat Award while keyboardist for the vocal jazz group “TBA.” During his time as a music major at University of Nevada, he's spent time playing with several groups, including Sol Jibe and the Mark Sexton Band. Another project was incorporating talented local musicians into a performance endeavor entitled "Status Flo."
His parents, Joel and Cynthia, played all types of music in the home--R&B, gospel, classical, jazz, you name it—making it easy to develop an open mind for new sounds. So in addition to jazz, J is always ready to jam with R&B, blues, neo-soul, and more. He's just released his first CD, appropriately entitled “The Beginnings.” This eight-track collection is jazz with a “funky-classical” vibe. The whole mix is tempered with soothing string arrangements and straight-ahead rhythms.
AMAN -- The youngest of five brothers, Aman was born to play the trumpet. With unusually round cheeks as a baby, his dad predicted from birth that he'd be a horn player. To this day, his trumpet goes pretty much wherever he goes (along with his spitoon). Born in San Francisco, he began playing jazz trumpet around age 7, and over the years added additional genres, including R&B, classical and funk.
Aman has been playing music with his brothers (the Cowell Brotet) since a young age. The responsibility of playing so many "lead" parts with the group has been great for him, and with Khari on the drums, Nick on bass, and J on keys, he's always had plenty of support.
"Even though I'm the youngest, I was never intimidated about playing, cause my older brothers were always there with me," he explains."
He's participated in everything from Jazz to Blues to Classical, The past couple of years have found him spending a lot of time composing, along with developing his vocals. He has started his junior year at CA State University—Chico as a music education major. That's a busy schedule, but it all falls into place with his goal of one day teaching music at the university level.
When it comes to his favorite musicians, Aman gathers inspiration from their character, as well as their musical abilities. Some of his favorite trumpet players include Dizzy Gillespie, a pioneer of Bebop, and Ambrose Akinmusire, a modern trumpet player with a unique sound and style, along with many other musicians and bands across the spectrum of music.
"Dizzy just seems like a fun guy. In addition to being a jazz legend, he seems like the kind of person who had a quirky sense of humor--who knew how to have fun. Ambrose seems to have a more serious side. If I can channel all aspects of myself into my horn, then I'm on my way to reaching my full music potential."
KHARI -- If there was one word to describe Khari, it would be "adventurous." His outgoing personality was the main reason his dad suggested that he be a drummer--and it's worked out pretty well.
Khari began playing drums with his brothers at around age eight. Since an early age there have been many different percussion assignments, including marching, jazz and concert bands, percussion ensemble, theatrical accompaniment and more. He also decided to broaden his musical horizons by joining Northern California/Oregon's Jefferson Pipe Band (yes, as in bagpipes and kilts) along with supporting the community involved Hardcore Rock Scene in Redding/Chico. So you just might find him grooving on a jazz kit, playing snare in a St. Patrick's Day parade, or busting out some rock drumming.
His favorite grooves are poly rhythmic.
"I just like the idea of playing more than one rhythm at once."
Another favorite thing to do is playing a free-sounding solo, and incorporating different aspects of drumming, whether it be something that sounds military, or something involves complex triplets. Though primarily a jazz musician, he listens to a wide variety of styles, from Classical, to Techno, or anything that sparks his interest. "Inspiration can come from any genre of music"
In keeping with his sense of artful exploration, he is currently attending Shasta College in Redding, CA and working on his progressive rock EP, "Structural Contengencies," to be released in Nov. 2015.
In addition to all this, he's recently begun studying dance, participating in his first performance this past Fall.
"The Weekends." Just what you need. An energized jam featuring Nick on the bass. From the CD "Feelin' Funky" by Nick Cowell. Exclusively for Contact List Members.