[11/18/2003] - Coda Magazine review of Suite for New York
New York City has inspired many a jazz portrait. In the wake from the towers' collapse any tribute bears tragedy, but Canadian pianist/composer D.D. Jackson's suite for his adopted home - a strange term, granted, when Ottawa's son has lived there since 1989 - sings of life, however hectic life can be, and hope, however strained that can be. In that spirit, there is no complaint in calling this a work of moments. That doesn't mean lack of structural vision. In "Awakening," the first movement of "The City," he layers the salary-man bustle around tough, knotty solos from Tom Walsh (trombone) and James Spaulding (alto). Come the second movement, "Central Park Promenade & Conclusion," he's drawing the full punch and color of his nonet. Spaulding's flute is featured at first, nestled in some of the loveliest cushioning of brass and strings since Neil Ardley's Kaleidoscope of Rainbow. Then it turns tough again, with a deep musing from David Mott (baritone) and a bout with the leader in his percussive, Don Pullen-ish mode, '"Hopes and Dreams" savors some deeppile Ellintonia, with Spaulding more citric take on Johnny Hodges, before soaring in the kind of rising melody you reckon New Yorkers- hell, all of us - need more than ever.
- Randal McIlroy