"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.