Percussionist, Composer, Arranger, Producer, Author and four time Grammy Winner Darryl Munyungo Jackson possesses an ever-increasing collection of instruments with which to execute his craft. That is one of the reasons this warm and unassuming West Coast artist can be found in virtually any musical setting—whether it’s Funk, Pop, Jazz, Latin, Reggae, or traditional dance music of such countries as Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Haiti, Brazil and Cuba.
Despite his youthful appearance, Munyungo is no newcomer: in his over thirty years of playing, he has developed an awesome versatility and became a well-respected and much requested session, concert and tour player. He has performed with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Kenny Loggins, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, the Zawinul Syndicate, George Howard, Ronnie Laws, The Temptations, Four Tops, The Supremes, Bennie Maupin, Bill Summers, Marcus Miller, and dozens of others, including numerous ethnic music and dance troupes.
Munyungo was born in Los Angeles, California, into creative surroundings: his parents, Arthur Jackson Jr. and Genie Jackson, both maintained various involvements in music, dance and writing, and Munyungo is the nephew of the legendary jazz, pop and blues singer and pianist Nellie Lutcher who was on Capital Records.
As a child, Munyungo was required to take classical piano lessons, and did so until he was nineteen years old. But in his high school years, when one of his buddies started a Latin jazz band, seventeen-year-old Munyungo found himself uncontrollably attracted to the sound of the timbales, and his interest in piano began to fade. He began spending more and more time with the percussionist in that band, soon discovering that he was quite skillful at observing and remembering the techniques. His first opportunity he purchased his very own set of timbales.
During this period, Munyungo’s father was program director of a jazz radio station. The benefit to Munyungo was the constant exposure to much music. He happily surrounded himself with the albums of the many Latin artists of the day such as Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, and Tito Puente, and practiced by playing his timbales along with these albums. Soon, his system of observation-plus-practice proved to be an effective method of self-training, and it wasn’t long before he formed a Latin jazz band with his classmates.
Munyungo’s passion for the timbales was only the beginning. From that point, he made the natural progression to Congas, Bongos, Latin Percussion and beyond, eventually to religious Bata Drumming, and numerous drums and percussion from many different cultures.