As a young musician, Jafala (a.k.a. Jay Cook) studied classical guitar in the early 80’s. Later in that decade, he became hooked on world music and worked with master percussionist and instructor Steve Leicach, with a focus on djembe and conga global rhythms. In the early 90’s his interest in improvisation brought him to free improv guru David Darling. A gifted teacher, Darling helped Jafala formulate lifelong approaches towards both composing and spirituality in music. Bass became his instrument of choice in the late 90’s, and he was hired to perform with various local groups and genres, from rock to jazz to zydeco. In 2010 he co-founded the 12 piece Afrobeat band “Fenibo”, and has been playing and writing for various “looks” of the band since then. In 2015 Jafala discovered the beauties of both electronic music and vocal improvisation, and he’s accompanied a number of yoga classes with a setup that includes voice, acoustic instruments and improvised electronic sounds and grooves.
Influenced by his work in yoga classes, Jafala committed to composing more consistently. His tunes reflect his studies with, and listening to, various teachers and performers over the years: grooves and percussion from world musician/composer Steve Leicach, vocal improvisation and creation from Bobby McFerrin, layering of texture and lyric writing from Fela Kuti (inventor of Afrobeat), hypnotic multi-part guitar work, mbira and vocals from Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwean musician), and the electronics and vocals of Sylvan Esso (electronics and vocal duo.) Jafala’s artistic intention is to tell a story through his music, one that moves his audience towards a spiritual journey with interesting and danceable grooves, socially conscious lyrics, “vocalizations”,“invented language”, world instruments and soulful sound design.