From Heritage Guitar Award to Broadway pit player, Ron Jackson is always an appreciated guitarist and sideman, but he's been consistently under-recognized for his own compositions and continued commitment to the endeavors and education of jazz.
Jackson has performed and recorded in over thirty countries as a bandleader and ensemble performer. He currently has five CDs as a leader or co-leader: A Guitar Thing and Thinking of You (Muse Records); Concrete Jungle , an album co-led by bassist Nicki Parrot (Airmen Records); Song for Luis, a duo with Rufus Reid on Mastermix Records; and his current CD, entitled The Dream I Had , featuring Joris Teepe on bass and Joris Dudli on drums. Jackson was the winner of the 1996 Heritage Guitars International Jazz Guitar Competition; his recordings have featured prominent sideman like Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller. He has also performed and recorded with such jazz greats as Benny Golson, The Mingus Guitar Tribute Band, Jimmy Cobb, Russell Malone, Larry Coryell, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Rufus Reid.
Jackson takes us through a musical journey ranging from an energetic rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Too-High," with its hard hitting bass, drums and well-placed guitar uniting the track into a well-balanced meal of funk backbeat; to "You," a tender moment with a deeply moving track. Its depth and powerful emotion suggest the composition will have staying power as a classic for future generations. "To Mr. Evans" is a highly polished composition that lends itself to the players as a vehicle for serious improvisation. Jackson creates lush chords within his single lines that weave a fabric of listening pleasure. He also exhibits a unique approach in re-harmonization that is clearly conveyed with "Long Ago and Far Away" and "Isn't it Romantic."
Jackson's compositional skills really shine overall on "You" and "Nikki's Waltz." He showcases his ability to create lyrical messages within these two pieces. "You" is a beautiful minor ballad showcasing Jackson's pen and chord melody chops. The haunting intro leads into the melody, stated in a relaxed style with Jackson playing counterpoint with himself for the A sections, with the B section stated by Teepe's bass for a nice orchestral change. Jackson's solo is a great example of his ability to develop a motif both with a pen and on the guitar in a logical and musical manner. "Waltz for Nikki" is a flowing 6/4 composition with Jackson doing a fine job of accompanying himself throughout the melody. By developing the melody through various harmonizations and a long, flowing form, he offers a nice compositional experience; this track has some nice harmonic surprises for the captive listener.
My only lingering desire would have been to hear longer solos by Jackson and Teepe and more compositions with depth and penetrating melodies like "You" and "Waltz for Nikki." Certainly an enjoyable CD for guitar trio listeners who like the combination of originals and standards in their musical diet.
Personnel: Ron Jackson (Guitar);
Joris Teepe (Bass);
Joris Dudli (Drums).