Jazz caveman grunts, “electric instruments bad, acoustic jazz good.” I must confess that of late, I was that Neanderthal jazz fan. I bought into the theory that electricity removed the requirement of musicianship in the music making process. While that may be true for teen rock and lite-jazz, talented jazz musicians can create absorbing and discriminating music with the juice on. Like fellow countryman Oscar Peterson, the Canadian born Jackson can display the pyrotechnically approach to the keyboard. He studied with the Jaki Byard and Don Pullen, the latter from which he adopted a dense somewhat dissonant percussive attack. On Anthem Jackson’s energy jazz is channeled into an amalgam of world music, funk, soul, and rock. His music a (re)new approach holds the promise once offered by Weather Report (Shorter, Zawinul, Pastorius, and Co.). Easy caveman, this music won’t hurt you, in fact it’s a ball. And it works because Jackson’s musical premise is one of joyous ebullience. Jackson’s prior recordings for the Canadian Justin Time label hinted at this direction of music, evidenced by his prior associations with saxophonist Davis Murray and producer Kip Hanrahan. With Anthem, it has reached full fruition thanks to his well-chosen band mates. Former Miles Davis drummer Jack DeJohnette has blended modern jazz with world music in his Special Edition/New Directions bands and percussionist Mino Cinelu is world music. Jackson’s choice of James Carter adds perhaps the most versatile multi-instrumental saxophonist working today. What makes this a gem of a record is the two relatively new musicians heard violinist/guitarist Christian Howes and bassist Richard Bona. Howes has single-handedly rescued the electric violin from jazz obscurity. He can play both inside and out, laying lyrical lines side-by-side with a screaming delivery. Likewise, the Cameroonian Bona evokes whispers of Jaco Pastorius with his approach to the electric bass. Jackson switches between his acoustic piano and B3 organ with great affect. A great new direction for a new millenium.
Track List:Spring Song; Pat; Water Dance; Showcase Blues; Carnavale; Simple Song; Her Song; Church; Dewey’s Groove; Anthem.
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