Primordial Waters is the debut album from 22-year-old jazz prodigy Jamael Dean.
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.