Primordial Waters is the debut album from 22-year-old jazz prodigy Jamael Dean. The 10-track jazz album is accompanied by a 10-track hip-hop album, produced by Dean as “Jasik,” with beats sampled from the jazz recordings.
Video: “Primordial Waters,” a 7-minute suite of four tracks from the album – Ọṣun, Lake Corcoran, Ba’Ra’Ka, and Galaxy in Leimert – featuring Sharada Shashidhar and Mekala “Mickey” Session. Directed by Eric Coleman.
The album’s title refers to the creation story of the Yoruba people, a West African ethnic group with a revered tradition. Songs on Primordial Waters tell stories of deities and divinities, with Jamael drawing a through line between his tradition’s origins and contemporary jazz. “Èṣù” is a jazz interpretation of a traditional Yoruba spiritual melody, and “Ṣàngó” tells the story of the popular king deity, god of thunder and lightning. These sit alongside songs inspired by Jamael’s black Los Angeles community. “Galaxy In Leimert”, influenced by Alice Coltrane’s “Galaxy Around Olodumare,” pays celestial homage to Jamael’s rapidly-gentrifying South L.A. neighborhood, Leimert Park. Jamael’s hip-hop influence comes through in the album’s second half, with Jamael assuming his hip-hop alter ego Jasik to rap over beats he created entirely by sampling the jazz material on the first half of the album.
Jamael invited his regular collaborator, vocalist Sharada Shashidar, and Mekala Session from his local music community to perform on the album. Jamael is a seasoned collaborator: he currently leads music collective The Afronauts, has participated in the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, and has played with the likes of Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño.
The Jamael Dean & Sharada Shashidhar Quartet tour Europe this fall, kicking off November 7th at London’s Jazz Cafe and wrapping up November 14th in Paris, with a festival debut at Le Guess Who – See the tour dates below.
“Galaxy in Leimert” is a jazzy celestial tribute to Jamael’s South Los Angeles neighborhood, Leimert Park. Referred to as “the cultural heartbeat of black LA,” the district has historically served as an African-American art and culture hub, and has been compared to New York City’s Harlem. Frequent collaborator Sharada Shashidhar’s soaring vocals appear on “Galaxy” and throughout the album.
“Èṣù” is an interpretation of a traditional Yoruba spiritual melody. The song tells the story of the wise ancient child-like divinity who was the first to be present during creation, and who currently resides at the crossroads of life and one’s decisions. These Orisha stories and Los Angeles roots are the guiding principles of Primordial Waters’ composition.
Dean first attempted to create music inspired by ancestral Yoruba stories on Black Space Tapes. He continued these ideas on the 2020 cassette Oblivion, combining them with an interest in numerology. On Primordial Waters, Jamael’s identity as someone of the Yoruba diaspora takes centre stage.
Primordial Waters – the jazz album track list
02. Odù Tó Dá Ìwà
03. Orí Apẹrẹ
09. Galaxy In Leimert
Primordial Waters – the hip-hop album track list
11. Ba’Ra’Ka (feat. Mickey & Sharada Shashidhar)
12. Orí Inu
15. Galaxy 4 Leimert
18. Thicket (feat. Sharada Shashidhar)
20. Lake Corcoran
The Jamael Dean & Sharada Shashidhar Quartet – Europe Tour
Nov 7 London, Jazz Cafe
Nov 8 Zurich, Moods
Nov 9 Munich, Unterfahrt
Nov 10 Warsaw, Jassmine
Nov 11 Berlin, Badehaus
Nov 12 Utrecht, Le Guess Who?
Nov 13 Groningen, Rockit Festival
Nov 14 Paris, Bambino