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Jason Jackson: Inspiration

Jack Bowers BY

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Jason Jackson: Inspiration
After recording his first CD as leader in 2001, New York-based trombonist Jason Jackson took his time before releasing a second—thirteen years, to be exact. To say it was worth the wait would clearly be an understatement. Inspiration, on which Jackson employs horn, rhythm and string sections to emblazon his musical scenario, is a superb anthology recorded in three sessions spanning a decade and spotlighting along the way such eminently talented artists as Slide Hampton, Dick Oatts, Pete Christlieb, Terell Stafford, Evan Christopher, Steve Wilson, Rufus Reid and Roy Hargrove, not to mention Jackson himself, a Renaissance man who not only solos sharply on each of the album's ten selections but composed half of them and arranged half a dozen.

It's hardly surprising that Jackson, whose skills are such that he plays regularly in Broadway pit bands and has been a member of the world-class Vanguard Jazz Orchestra for more than a decade, cites J.J. Johnson as his favorite trombonist, as there is more than a little Johnson in his timbre and phrasing. He also has a keen ear for a charming melody, a flair exemplified by his tasteful compositions "Brazilian Bop," "Burnin,'" "The Spot," "Wake Up Election 2000" and "My Friend Sam." Jackson's charts, like those of Christopher ("El Huesero"), Hampton ("Tenderly") and film writer Eddie Karam ("Spring Is Here," "My Friend Sam") are big-band blueprints that accentuate horns and rhythm. Even though the strings are ever- present they are hardly ever intrusive, nor do they impede the ensemble from swinging whenever it is called upon to do so.

"Brazilian Bop," inspired by Jackson's travels to Brazil with Ray Charles, proves a charming opener, galloping straight ahead behind bright solos by Jackson, Hampton and alto Oatts. It's the first of two numbers from the "New York session" (the second, "Tenderly," features Jackson's eloquent trombone). Two more songs, "Spring Is Here" and "My Friend Sam" (the last embodying nimble statements by Jackson and tenor Christlieb), were recorded in Los Angeles, the others in South Orange, NJ. Hargrove's trumpet is center stage on "April in Paris" and "Burnin,'" Stafford's on "Wake Up Election" and Daniel Jackson's picturesque "Salute to Mandela." Clarinetist Christopher solos on his seductive "El Huesero," bassist Reid on "The Spot," tenor Rich Perry on "April in Paris," alto Wilson on "Wake Up Election." Besides "Tenderly," Jackson is showcased on "Spring Is Here."

This is a panoramic enterprise reminiscent of albums produced by the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra, which also employs a large string section to reinforce brass, winds and rhythm. While it's a good bet that Jackson is aware of the Metropole, the Inspiration behind this splendid album is explicitly his own, and he makes the most of every idea.

Track Listing

Brazilian Bop; Burnin’; Spring Is Here; Salute to Mandela; El Huesero; The Spot; April in Paris; Tenderly; Wake Up Election 2000; My Friend Sam.

Personnel

Session A (Tracks 3, 10) —Eddie Karam: conductor; Jason Jackson: trombone; Charlie Davis: trumpet; Mike McGuffy: trumpet; Jeff Clayton: alto sax; Sal Lozano: alto sax; Pete Christlieb: tenor sax; Gene Cipriano: baritone sax; Gary Foster: flute; Ray Pizzi: flute; Don Shelton: clarinet; Jennifer Hall: bass clarinet; Bill Watrous: trombone; George Bohanon: trombone; Bryant Byers: bass trombone; Michael Melvoin: piano; Bob Boss: guitar; Marshall Hawkins: bass; Trey Henry: bass; John Guerin: drums; Vanessa Brown: percussion; Ralph Morrison: violin; Josefina Vergara: violin; Lesa Terry: violin; Margaret Wooten: violin; Claudia Parducci: violin; Ron Clark: violin; Yvette Devereaux: violin; Henri Gronnier: violin; Charles Stegman: violin; Carole Mukogawa: viola; Robin Ross: viola; Jorge Moraga: viola; Anne Karam: cello; Larry Corbett: cello; Jodie Burnett: cello. Session B (Tracks 1, 8) —Slide Hampton: conductor, trombone solo (1); Jason Jackson: trombone soloist; Earl Gardner: trumpet; Anthony Tooley: trumpet; Dick Oatts: alto sax; Ralph Lalama: tenor sax; Gary Smulyan: baritone sax; Bernard :Phillips: flute; Jimmie Cozier: flute; Bill Easley: clarinet; Leno Gomez: bass clarinet; John Mosca: trombone; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone; Roger Jones II: piano; Rodney Jones: guitar; Monte Croft: vibraphone; Rufus Reid: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Roger Squitero: percussion; Balinda Whitney: violin; Masako Yanagita: violin; Sandra Billingsley: violin; Cecelia Hobbs- Gardner: violin; Phillip Payton: violin; Stan Hunte: violin; Glen Laster: violin; Melanie Baker: violin; Edith Yokley: violin; Orlando Wells: viola; Anne Marie Bedney: viola; Judith Insell- Stack: viola; Kermit Moore: cello; Melvin Greenwich: cello; Jared Snyder: cello; Anthony Morris: bass; Lou Bruno: bass. Session C (Tracks 2, 4-7, 9) —Jason Jackson: trombone; Roy Hargrove: trumpet (2, 7); Terell Stafford: trumpet (4, 9); Frank Greene: trumpet; Greg Gisbert: trumpet; Shawn Edmonds: trumpet; Freddie Hendrix: trumpet; Steve Wilson: alto sax (9); Evan Christopher: clarinet (5); Dick Oatts: alto sax, flute; Dave Rickenberg: alto sax, flute; Rich Perry: tenor sax; Ralph Lalama: tenor sax, clarinet; Frank Basile: baritone sax, bass clarinet; John Mosca: trombone; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Mark Patterson: trombone; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone; Roger Jones II: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Roger Squitero: percussion; Balinda Whitney: violin; Racko Parrini: violin; Richard Brice: viola; Maria Jeffers: cello.

Album information

Title: Inspiration | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Planet Arts Records

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