Susanne Alt
Susanne Alt

Presenting: Saxify musicians - JAMAL THOMAS

(Photo 1:Roermond Jazz, 2012)

During the next weeks I will write a little bit about the musicians, engineers and others who contributed to this album. Let’s start with:

Jamal Thomas
Drums on all tracks of Saxify
Vocals on “You and me” and “Sugar Sweet”

(Photo 2: Dutch tv interview about my performance on Amsterdam Uitmarkt early that day, 2011, here we are watching a fragment with Jamal)                                     

I met Jamal Thomas around 1994 or 95, when I first visited Maceo Parker concerts.
Guitar player Bruno Speight introduced me to him and also Will Boulware (keys) and Jerry Preston (bass). It was in the amazing time that Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley played with Maceo and thy wre playing until the audience was getting tired… sometimes the shows lasted 4-5 hours.
That’s when the friendship started.
Being one of best drummers in the world, Jamal influenced a lot of drummers. People praise his playing for his creativity and looseness.
His technique is probably unique, at least I never saw anyone play like him. Also he plays “open” while most drummers play cross-handed.

(One of my favourite video moments of Maceo with Jamal on drums, Jazz a Vienne, 2005)

A bit of biography from Jamal’s website:
“Jamal Thomas, born and raised in Macon Georgia to proud parents William and Arsie Lee Thomas.
The second of six children, Jamal grew up as a musically inclined child, teaching himself to drum and sing at an early age.
Throughout highschool he played drums for the schools marching band. Upon leaving highschool at age 18 he formed his own band, known as “The Planets“. An 11 piece Funk band in which he drummed and tried his hand at background singing. The Planets were fortunate enough to catch a break with the legendary R’nB singer Joe Simons, who’s hit list consists of more than 50 singles, including “Drowning in the sea of love“, “Get down on the floor“ and “Music in my bones“.
After extensively touring around the world with Joe Simons, Jamal went on to become a much sought after studio drummer. Becomming a regular session musician at the “Capricorn Recording Studio“ back in Macon Georgia, where top names such as Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers turned out their first hits.
Thereafter, he joined the Rock ‘n Roll band “Black Oak Arkansas“, whererby re-location was the name of the game!
Eventually JT made other magical music hookups with the likes of the “SOS Band“, in the US, „Sandrine“ in Belgium, and till 2011, toured throughout the world with Maceo Parker.
Whilst performing 20 years as the drummer of the Maceo Parker Band, Jamal took a step into the vocal arena and decided to place his musical attention towards producing his first album “Family“ and exposing his gift of singing to the world.
In 2009 Jamal came across the young talented drummer Alex Bernath. They decided to collaborate and form the Jamal Thomas Band.”

(Photo 3: Jamal with the Jamal Thomas Band in Epe 2014)
(Photo 4: drummer Alex Bernath and Jamal backstage at Uitmarkt 2012)

I also found a nice piece on, booking agancy for Jamal:
“When you ask the multi-talented drummer/producer and composer of some of the worlds greatest Funk & R’n’B formations why he’s turned his attention to singing… He will lay it down as such:
”To uplift this planet through music and lyrics to let love rule”.
After 30 years of performing world wide with artists like Maceo Parker (James Brown, Prince), the SOS Band, ChuckLeavell (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton) and producing team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Pink) Jamal Thomas has seen the limelight long enough to know where the soul of music is born.
And to give rhythm a voice just made sense. The Jamal Thomas Band is a jazz-in ced European funk group, combined with the R’n'B experience of the famous US Drummer from Macon, Georgia. It delivers a sensational mixture of old-school funk and new-school soul excitement and raw energy to groove you throughthe seat of your soul!
“The Jamal Thomas Band is Funk with a twist, this is a new direction, feel good music!” -Fred Wesley”

(Photo 5: Recording for "Saxify": Jamal and his wife Nadine, percussionist Femke Krone at Wedgeview Studios)
(Photo 6: Jamal recording for "Saxify")
In my own band I played with different drummers and since 2011 I’ve often worked with him. We did some really cool live and tv shows, played in Bimhuis with 2 drummers; (Gijs Dijkhuizen and Jamal Thomas) and more..
In exchange Jamal has been asking me to perform and record with his band, one of the highlights so far was the mainstage gig during Swingin’ Groningen with Fred Wesley and writing horn arrangements and recording them for his upcoming third album. Go to his website

(Photo 7: Susanne, Jamal, percussionist Juri Küfner, engineer Wout de Kruif)
(Photo 8: from left to right: Wout, Jamal, Susanne, Juri)

The Jamal Thomas Band feat. Fred Wesley and Susanne Alt during Swingin' Groningen 2012

on 29/03/2016


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