“When it comes to drummer Jacob Armen, wunderkind is an understatement.” -LA Times
Jacob Armen is a multi-instrumentalist and drum prodigy: having astounded the world with his gift since he was l8 months old, Jacob’s natural gift was nurtured by his father, Armenian musician, composer and performer Albert Armen, whose dedication to both music and to Jacob became the catalyst for a deep and inherent musical journey. Performing duets in the family restaurant with his father started when he was just a toddler, and his talent was recognized early on by Latin percussion legend Poncho Sanchez, leading to an invitation for Jacob to sit in with the house band at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The performance was aired live on L.A. jazz station KKGO, and at just three and a half years of age, Jacob delivered a performance that won him several standing ovations and sealed his fate as a force to be reckoned with.
Jacob’s list of accomplishments are extensive, beginning with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1989 at the age of seven, and a subsequent feature in People Magazine, leading him to impress and collaborate with such notables as Jason Scheff of the band Chicago, Patrick Moraz (Yes, Moody Blues), Sheila E and Professor of Music and Jazz Studies Joel Leach of Cal State Northridge, who in speaking to the L.A. Times, enthused that Jacob could “play patterns that the most advanced professionals have trouble with,” adding that “Nothing throws him!” With Leach as his mentor, worldwide media attention ensued and Jacob’s name soon became synonymous with prodigy. As ex-Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine once said, Jacob at the age of seven could “already do things Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Steve Gadd do.”
Coming to the attention of rock icon Prince, Jacob signed to Paisley Park Enterprises (later to become NPG), and released an album of his own called Drum Fever (1995), which featured notables Alphonso Johnson, Alex Acuña, Freddie Ravel, Larry Steelman, Eric Leeds on sax and CSUN’s 17-piece Jazz ensemble conducted by Professor Joel Leach. Prince himself made the statement at the time that Jacob was “the most frightening drummer” he had ever heard. His sophomore album, Breakthrough, was released on Jacob’s own independent label, JAAB Records, in 2001.
Recently, Jacob released a brand new double-album in 2018 entitled “When Drums Conduct.” A lengthy but unanticipated absence from the music industry was necessary after a tragic car accident dealt him injuries from which it took years to recover, but Jacob’s strength and resolve has helped him to overcome these obstacles, bringing him back to a place where he feels stronger than ever. In an unconventional, never-before-seen grouping of musical styles on a single release, When Drums Conduct cuts across several genres – Rock & World (Side 1) and Jazz & Classical (Side 2). The genre-bending album features over 80 musicians from around the world and collaborations with some of the industry’s finest, including multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning artists such as Daron Malakian, Victor Wooten, Poncho Sanchez, Patrick Moraz, Djivan Gasparyan, Tina Guo, The USC Trojan Marching Band and the Lark Choir.
With over 30 million views on YouTube, Jacob is still the youngest drummer to land endorsements from REMO, Zildjian and KAT electronic drums. Jacob also holds endorsements from DW, EastWest, Logic Pro, Yamaha keyboards, Ddrum and Synthogy. Outside of his solo appearances, Jacob frequently performs with his band and collaborates with his father Albert, to whom he credits much of his musical success and his passion to create.