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Jemal Ramirez

My earliest memories go back to me in my bedroom (I was about 4 maybe 5), with a portable tape recorder, adult-sized over-the-ear headphones, a box of my dad’s tapes, chewed up drumsticks, and this drum set. This was the first drum set that my mom, Deanna Tafoya, bought for me at a garage sale. I remember having two drum sets to choose from. I had a connection with this drum set for some reason; well, I was born in the year of the tiger (1974).

But my story with drums and music, actually starts a bit earlier. My father, Alfred Ramirez, played music. In fact, me, my mom and dad all drove from California to as far away as Colorado while I was only six months old. My dad played in a band that played small clubs and hotels. We drove there in an old Dodge van. It had no insulation, just a white tin can big enough to sleep in, I assume. I bet my mom thought we would die out in that cold Colorado winter weather.

Eventually, me and my mom came home, and dad would go on to Michigan before he got a local job to raise me and my brother in Merced, California, where me, my mom and brother were born. Growing up in an old world kind of town gave me plenty to do. My neighborhood had many kids my age to play with. My dad had started a job that required long hours of him. I always knew there was something else that my dad should be doing, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized he decided to give up his dream of a career in music for my family. He never talked about that and I never asked him about it.

I did understand, at the age of 3, that when my dad got home from his day job, he loved to play the drums. Especially while he played along to his music on the stereo. He would play along to Earth, Wind and Fire; Chicago; Spyro Gyro; Weather Report; Billy Cobham; and Tower of Power. He would also play in local bands for a while until he became bored and even resentful of playing music that he was not interested in. So he got a really nice stereo that he could play the latest music in the jazz and pop world that would keep him interested. Later on (10 years plus) he would come to my bedroom to play along to Ralph Moore albums, with Kenny Washington and Victor Lewis on drums and my first nice full rack Marantz stereo I bought from Sears on a monthly payment plan.

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Jemal Ramirez: African Skies

Jemal Ramirez: African Skies

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

One of the hottest Latin-jazz and salsa markets in the country is San Francisco. This may come as a surprise but it isn't. The city's Latin Quarter (now North Beach) has been a music center since the 1930s. The district's Latino history dates back to the 1910s, when, according to The Heart of the Mission: Latino Art and Politics in San Francisco by Cary Cordova, Mexicans settled there after fleeing their country's revolution. During World War II, the Spanish-speaking neighborhood ...

Primary Instrument



San Jose

Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


BM in Music Education with emphasis on instrumental music. Music Credential for Music K-12. www.sjgschoolofmusic.com

Clinic/Workshop Information

I enjoy working with students of all levels. I find myself mostly working with 6th graders through 12th graders. I am comfortable in the tradtional band class, jazz band or smaller combo units and percussion ensembles.



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

African Skies

Joyful Beat Records



Self Produced


River Converge

Neil Kelly



Chris Shahin


The Green Eyed Girl

Litsis Records


Live At Yoshi's

World City Music



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