At 18 months, his father sat him down at the drum set. With Albert on keyboards, together they began playing duets in various styles and unconventional time signatures overlaid with polyrhythms. This practice and nourishment of the child's musical ability lead to weekend performances at their family restaurant, the Magic Lamp. In late summer of 1984, at age 3 and a half, Jacob was invited by Latin percussion legend, Poncho Sanchez to sit in and jam with the band at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. The performance was aired live on the very popular jazz radio station, KKGO.
Jacob’s solo and performance with Poncho and his Latin Jazz Band received several standing ovations. At age 5, while Jacob was performing a drum solo at Guitar Center, he met with lead singer and bass sensation, Jason Scheff of the world-renown rock group Chicago. Jason was amazed by his performance and immediately invited Jacob to their recording studio. After recording his drum solo, Jacob was introduced to the rest of the Chicago band members. Jacob and Jason often jammed at the family restaurant, Magic Lamp, and in later years, they had a concert together.
When Jacob was 6 years old, Albert invited Joel Leach, Professor of Music and of Jazz studies at California State University of Northridge, to witness the boy's performance at the restaurant. Joel was astonished with Jacob's drumming and invited him to play with the University's 20-piece jazz ensemble. “Nothing throws him – he can play cross-rhythms that the most advanced professionals have trouble with,” said Joel in an article for LA Times. With Joel Leach as his mentor, the media interest in the little “drummer boy” reached worldwide proportions.
From radio (NPR, KNX) and TV interviews (CNN, KCAL, ABC, NBC, etc.), to newspaper articles and magazines (People), including music and drum magazines such as Downbeat and Drums & Drumming. It also led to a series of television appearances from 1987-89, including but not limited to ABC's “Incredible Sunday” and “Good Morning America,” CBS’s Jerry Lewis “MDA Labor Day Telethon,” the “Super Dave Osbourn Show” (CBN-Canada), NBC's “Today Show” and Johnny Carson's “The Tonight Show” (NBC) with Doc Severinsen and his 17-piece jazz ensemble. After seeing Jacob’s performance on “The Tonight Show,” drumming virtuoso, Dave Weckl, dedicating his original composition to Jacob on his very first solo album (Master Plan) entitled “Tower of Inspiration.” While Jacob was collecting endorsements from REMO drums, Zildjian cymbals and drumsticks, and KAT electronic drums, at age 6, Jacob became the youngest drummer ever to be awarded with such endorsements. Shortly after, Drum Workshop, Shure microphones, Yamaha keyboards, and Meinl percussion followed and fully endorsed Jacob with their products. Legendary jazz critic, Leonard Feather witnessed Jacob’s performance at a NAJE (National Association of Jazz Educators) convention with the U.S.
Air Force Band, and had quoted in LA Times and Jazz Educators Journal, “He is not a member of the Air Force, for which he can be excused, since he is 7 years old.” “…Armen lost no time proving he can outperform many drummers four times his age.” Ex-Chicago drumming great, Danny Seraphine had also mentioned in an interview for a music magazine, “I heard a kid that you might of heard of by the name Jacob Armen. He’s seven years old and can already do things Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Steve Gadd do.” Having performed with jazz ensembles across the globe, Jacob participated in several festivals such as the Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival (with Bill Berry Orchestra), and Reno Jazz Festival (with 17-piece jazz ensemble and drumming great Louie Bellson.) In addition, Jacob toured with legendary drummer, Louie Bellson at the age of 8. At age 9, Jacob met and performed with keyboard legend and gifted composer, Patrick Moraz, at a music convention known as the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. They have been performing together on and off ever since. Jacob and his father, Albert Armen toured and performed as a duo, worldwide. At age 9, in 1990, “father and son” participated in a 30-minute “Q and A” special called “The Drum Show,” which was featured on PBS and received an Emmy award.
In 1991, Jacob and his father also flew to Japan for a TV show called “The Super Kids Show,” and Italy to perform on a very popular TV show “Bravo Bravissimo,” which was hosted by legendary international TV personality, Mike Bonjourno. 300 of the most talented and gifted children of all ages (2-14) from around the world came to compete and represent their country on this very prestigious live television event. By people’s votes and calls, Jacob won 1st prize and was awarded 20 million Liras. At age 10, famed radio personality for KIIS FM and TV host, Rick Dees invited Jacob to perform on his ABC television program “Into The Night.” Jacob, with his original design and custom made “colorful” drum-kit (courtesy of Drum Workshop) brought the audience to their feet. During this time, Prince had discovered Jacob and signed him for 7 years as an artist for Paisley Park Enterprises, which later became NPG Records. Prince was quoted mentioning in an interview that Jacob was “the most frightening drummer” he had ever heard.
At age 12, Jacob cut his highly sought after first solo album, Drum Fever, which is now a collectable on E-Bay for up to $280.00. Albert Armen produced and co-engineered the album, and Jacob worked with special guest artists such as, Alphonso Johnson, Alex Acuña, Freddie Ravel, Larry Steelman, Eric Leeds on sax and CSUN’s 17-piece Jazz ensemble conducted by Professor Joel Leach. A few years after leaving Prince, Jacob produced and recorded his second album, Breakthrough, under his own label, JAAB Records, while simultaneously pursued to further his education by attending university. Having not mentioned his numerous concerts, benefit performances and jazz club dates, Jacob is now currently working on his highly anticipated third solo album with very special guest stars soon to be announced. Written by Miles Sanchez Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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