Born in the Bronx, New York in 1946, this two time Grammy Award-wining bassist was one of the pre-eminent session bassists of the late 1960s and early 1970s, working with an impressive cross section of the era's finest soul, jazz and blues artists.
One of the youngest of the many jazz musicians to come out the Bronx during the 1950s, Jerry Jemmott found his way to prominence on acoustic bass with Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers and the Mercer Ellington Orchestra. He switched to electric bass in 1964 and shaped his skills to eventually join many of his heroes in the recording studios of New York City.
He played on and arranged his first major recording sessions with JJ Jackson and played on Nina Simone's 'The Blues' album in 1965.
He got his big break when he was discovered by Rhythm 'n Blues/Jazz saxophonist King Curtis, and thanks to his Atlantic Records connection through Curtis he subsequently became a key architect of the Atlantic Records and Muscle Shoals Sound.
Jerry has been a performer since the age of five, starting as a tap dancer with Mary Bruce’s Star Buds, in Harlem, where he performed at Carnegie Hall in their annual review. He stands on the shoulders of the many musical geniuses of his time but owes his love of the bass to bassist Paul Chambers, whose rhythmic pulse and note selection captivated him and Charles Mingus who's harmonic propulsion and writing skills continued to motivate him. His mother Jessie insisted that he take lessons and after one year of upright bass lessons with Felix Mann, he started working professionally at the age of twelve in the many bars, night clubs and ballrooms in New York City with different bands, 3 to 4 nights a week, always learning more and often teaching, as he went along.
His body of work illuminates the times both then and now as he played on the recording of Ain't Got No / I Got Life” with Nina Simone, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” with Gill Scott Heron, “People Got To Be Free” with The Rascals, “The Universal Prisoner” with Les McCann & Eddie Harris, “Think” & “Eleanor Rigby” with Aretha Franklin, “Attica Blues” with Archie Shepp, “Why I Sing The Blues” & “The Thrill Is Gone” with BB KIng plus a recent cameo solo performance in the film “Mitchellville”.
B.B. King says: “He never does anything just because it’s right to do; he likes to do it because it feels good doing it. He would come up with things that fit… Quincy Jones has a way of working with people where he’ll get them together and say ‘Okay, get into something. Jerry was the same way…. Jerry was very concerned.”
He is the recipient of the Bass Player 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award; a clinician, author, and subject of many international magazine articles and books on musicianship and the art of bass playing, Chairman of the Electric Bass Department of The Richard Davis Foundation For Young Bassists Inc. and on the Advisory Board of 144 Music and Arts. Org. His latest books articles and videos are “There’s Music In Everyone!”, “The Wake Up Call”, “Human Livestock”, “Make Your Groove Happen!” and JAMBOREE. Jerry is acknowledged as “one of the most influential bassists of the past 100 years, who has changed the way the instrument is played”.
In his own words he is living proof of what the legendary Jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris said; “Music is the only profession where you can become successful and not know what you're doing”.
He formally educated himself along the way and in doing so invented JAMBOREE™, an interactive game which uses “ColorSounds” in an aural learning system, envisioned by his friend and mentor, drummer/actor Herb Lovelle.
It has been said that no education is complete without the Arts, which express our innate creativity; and music is the envy of all the Arts.
With JAMBOREE™ we have the future of music composition and a new way in which music can be taught, while giving us a new instrument to make it on that is exciting and lots of fun.
“I picked up a lot of “baggage” along the way and had my share of demons and set backs but never gave up my desire to always do my best, as my mother Jessie would often remind me; “You’ve got to put out 110%, just to compete in this world.”
"In spite of having bursitis and becoming addicted to escape via drugs and alcohol at the age of thirteen I achieved my ambition to become a studio musician by the time I reached my nineteenth birthday. I had a spiritual awakening with the death of King Curtis in August of 1971 and two years later in the Fall of 1973 following a nearly fatal auto accident in December of 1972, thanks to the legendary incomparable bassist Richard Davis I began the Buddhist practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, “The Ship To Cross The Sea of Suffering”. But it wasn’t until 1998 when I joined a local Nichiren Shoshu Temple that I was able to fully overcome my addictions and do the work that I do today. Along side my wife Marva and our fellow temple members; all around the world we achieve balance in our lives with the organization of priorities through this practice. This not only permeates our families, ancestors and those who are associated with us, but also possesses a mystic power that extends expansively and purifies all phenomena in the world.”
Over the years Jerry has performed all over the world. In between touring, recording projects, arranging, songwriting and producing music for film and commercials, he, teaches, and participates in workshops and clinics in addition to his own improvisation workshops & clinics with his Actress/Singer/Dancer wife, Marva (Bahama Mama) Burks; a disciple of Josephine Baker and former Ike & Tina Turner, “Ikette” and Elvis Presley, “Sweet Sensation”.
As “Jerry Jemmott & Souler Energy” he has recorded and performed a mix of his original “Cool Groove” songs and music along with his classic hits. You can see and hear Jerry live on tour throughout the U.S. & Europe with Jerry Jemmott & The Kingpins. Show less