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(The Oginga Group)
A bright star in the jazz fusion universe, percussionist Jamal Oginga is an influential musician when it comes to exotic Afro percussion. With a vibrant musical career, Oginga continues to shine, captivating audiences with his charismatic and skillful performances of jazz and Afro-Africana world rhythms.
Descending from a long line of actors and performers, such as Alvin Ailey, American Dance Theater, Esther Rolle, “Good Times”, it’s no wonder that performance and creativity run through Oginga’s veins. A natural talent, Oginga began expressing an interest in percussion at just 6 years old. Enticed by the conga drum, he would be found playing the kitchen pots and pans, often delaying dinner, to the tolerant consternation of family members. He distinctly remembers his first-ever conga drum, made from wood from Panama, Mexico. His passion for the art of percussion would never fade, from his home base in Washington DC mesmerized and inspired by the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Paulinho Da Costa, and Master Ashiko Drummer, BaBa Taiwo Duvall.
Jamal Oginga’s early experience of live performances would be in nightclubs and jazz houses, most notably the renowned supper club, Blues Alley. His first professional gig during the 1980s was with legendary saxophonist Arnett Cobb & the Mob Band at one of Washington DC’s premier Jazz clubs, The Bohemian Cavern. He would go on to perform as The Oginga Group and played the circuit around New York’s most popular jazz houses including Birdland, The Brooklyn Lyceum, The Jazz Gallery and The Jazz Standard.
His musical network expanded far and wide, performing alongside legendary flutist and saxophonist Al Williams III, Drummer Larry Bright, Bassist Gary Grainger, and fellow percussionist and inspirational peers/mentors, Barnett “DOC” Williams (Gil-Scott Heron) and Selden “Fig” Newton (Ahmad Jamal). Oginga recorded and released his debut album ‘Seeing Is Believing’ which captured his unique, powerful and intricate drumming styles. It received impressive reviews in North America, Japan and Europe, and became a regular on jazz radio stations like WHUR 96.3FM and WEAA 88.9FM.
Jamal Oginga has played at major national jazz venues and festival stages in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Delaware and New York, with a 12 city tour to support the release of ‘Seeing Is Believing’. He has also passed on his knowledge and expertise to children and young adults, leading hand and drum percussion workshops for students in Elementary, Middle and High school, alongside community healing centers.
Jamal Oginga’s ongoing musical journey is a fulfilling and rewarding one, with plans to record and release singles in summer 2022, followed by a support tour in 2023. He also will be a featured percussionist on various upcoming collaborative projects of his musical peers while taking the release of his current album one step further with a series of studios remixes.