Typical of many working class homes in the sixties, jazz was an important part of everyday life for Bruce Jackson. There was always music being played. “Two things I remember vividly about my early childhood”, Bruce recalls, “My parents worked together as a real partnership to keep things moving along. Sort of like a bass player and drummer, and the house always swung.” It was not unusual to hear Gene Ammons, Duke Ellington, Shirley Scott, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Jimmy Smith, Dinah Washington, Milt Jackson or Herbie Mann at any point in the day.
“I was very respectful of the record collection”, Jackson remembers. “Listen, but don’t touch. When I was about seven years old, my dad got me one of those portable record players, monophonic, one piece with the folding lid for my room. He started “giving” me certain records, so I would have some for my very own. When he went to the record store, sometimes he would buy new records and get a stereo copy for himself and a mono copy for me. I look back on that and see it as a parallel to the Native American teaching of a boy getting his first horse. You know, let’s see how you take care of this and maybe you’ll get some more.”
It was the drummers who really got Jackson’s attention on almost every recording. At a very early age, Jackson decided that drums would be the instrument he would play, although not without launching a campaign to obtain the instrument of choice. After endless solos on partially filled paint cans, Jackson’s uncle was summoned to speak to him about his desire to play the drums (Although Jackson suspected the real objective was to talk him out of it.) One afternoon at his house, during the family listening time, his uncle offers this bit of advice; “Your mother and father tell me you want to be a drummer.” Jackson replied with a nod of the head, and a grin from ear to ear. “Well,” his uncle replies, “You might want to think about playing tenor, you know, like Trane. If you’re in the rhythm section, you gotta play all night long!” Jackson gave it about ten seconds of thought and responded, “Yeah, but I want to be like Philly Joe Jones.” With that, Jackson’s Uncle Carter put the cigarette back in his mouth, walked upstairs, shrugged his shoulders and said to Jackson father, “Charlie, he wants to be like Philly Joe Jones.” That was that! Five years did pass before Jackson actually got the drumset and his parent’s conceded.”