Meet JaRon Eames: Born 1953, Baton Rouge La. Graduated high school 1971. Attended (enrolled) Southern University and went to two classes, and was sure it wasn't for me. (When I had comic legend George Carlin on my TV show, we talked about him being a drop out, and I said "I never let school interfere with my education"), so I spent the rest of my year partying. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. What a ball the late 1960s weresome of the best years of my life. However, had I stayed in that small town another day I'd have cut my wrist.
Moved to New York in 1973 at 19 years old. I was blessed to get a great job with Japan Air Lines, 1974-1977. After traveling around the world I was fired (I have been fired from every job I have had since 1969) and that pushed me into doing music, which I wanted to do all along.
It seems like I have been pushing a very large rock uphill ever since.
Teachers and/or influences? Attended Barry Harris workshop in the early 80s for a short time. I still have friends I made there all those years ago. Pianist Rodney Kendricks, among them.
Attended Colby Naritas workshop UJC where Abbey Lincoln, Dakota Staton and Ann Ruckert were sharing knowledge. To this day I still sing "All of Me" the way Dakota put my coat to it.
But it was working in night clubs over years with wonderfully talented and unselfish giants of this music we call jazz like Harold Mabern, Jamil Nasser, Lloyd Mayers, Earl May, Dorothy Donegan, Reggie Workman and others, who help shaped what I have become musically today.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... The year was 1964. My parents brought my sister and me to New York. We were staying at the New York Hilton. Across the street was/is the Warwick Hotel. At midnight there were thousands of people outside screaming and crying and just going mad (now i come from a small southern town where this was unheard of). Well I found out by going in the crowd that The Beatles had just arrived in America and were staying there. (I was so excited that I told my father that when I turn 19 Im moving to New York he patted my head and said, OK son, now go to bed. At 19 I was living in New York).
During that time The Beatles held no interest for me. James Brown. Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Motown, etc. floated my boat. But on the radio station I heard a song called How Glad I Am. I found it in a record store when I got home and saw a most beautiful, sexy woman and her name was Nancy Wilson. I knew then that I wanted to do this kinda music. Then in 1969 Nancy Wilson came to New Orleans, so I cut class and drove my 1968 drop top Mustang to the Roosevelt Hotel, sat my seventeen year-old self at a huge table under a massive chandelier, the band stuck up the opening and a voice said, Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Nancy Wilson. I heard all of three notes when some big burly white man insisted that I had to leave and now. Not only was I underage, there wasnt too many folks who looked like me in that room (we are talking late 1960s in the deep south). I have a habit of getting what I want, so I "requested" if I may stand behind the curtain to see the show. I saw a few songs and another burly man ran me out. But the seed was planted.
Your sound and approach to music: In my home my parents had lots of parties, my father was in banking and always entertaining. I grew up in the 1960s with what I think was some of the best music on the earth, black soul music. I heard and saw the very best in R&B. But every Saturday, in my home, you heard Ellington, Basie, Ella, Sarah, Nancy, Stitt, Doggett, Oscar, Mahalia and Ray, etc. It was so rich and formed my taste to this day. I believe when one has seen and heard the very best, its hard to settle for what passes for good black music today. Jazz the way I remember it is no more. A watered down, pale version has taken its place, and the soul is dead.
Your teaching approach: Dont mean a thing it if aint got that swing.
Your dream band: My dream band is the band I have been working with (what few gigs I get) over the years. My band on the CD Sounds Good To Me is as good as it gets. Piano: Amy Quint; Bass: Akria Ando; Drums: Walter Perkins (RIP); Sax: Michael Weisbeger (live shows Cleave Guydon); Guitar: Ethan Mann.
Anecdote from the road: Well, Im not sure this story is palatable for a public site, and I'm planning to put it in my book (Jazz conversations, which will be a transcription from the many legends who have appeared on the JaRon Eames Show). So if one is squeamish, dont read it here.
I work so little in America, but Im happy to say the last four years I have toured in Japan, working at a very elegant/private supper club. The last tour was 13 weeks (the kinda place where one night I got a 500.00 US dollar tip).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.