[9/19/2006] - All Music Guide review of Serenity Song
Some folks in the straight-ahead jazz world are of the opinion that a jazz album isn't legitimate unless it contains an abundance of well-known standards. But such thinking is silly, especially in light of the fact that many talented improvisers are also talented composers; D.D. Jackson is a prime example. There isn't a warhorse to be found on Serenity Song. The acoustic pianist wrote all of the material himself, which is not to say that he isn't capable of playing standards; Jackson has done it in the past and done it pleasingly well. But if one is as gifted and prolific a composer as Jackson, there is no reason not to provide as much original material as possible -- and his compositional talents are very much in evidence on memorable items that include the optimistic "Chi-Pin's Song," the pensive "Nocturne," the good-natured title track, and "Taiwan Moments" (a delicate waltz with a Bill Evans-minded appeal). Serenity Song has it share of quiet, reflective moments, but the generally lyrical Jackson's passionate side asserts itself in a big way on the exuberant "Etude," which hints at fellow pianist Michel Camilo. At times, Serenity Song is a trio album, uniting Jackson's piano with Ugonna Okegwo's upright bass and Dafnis Prieto's drums. Other times, Jackson's trio becomes a quartet, quintet, or sextet thanks to the addition of players who include Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Christian Howes on violin, and Dana Leong on trombone and cello. Except for the core Jackson/Okegwo/Prieto trio, the personnel can vary from one track to the next. But regardless of who's joining him on a particular song, Serenity Song is an excellent demonstration of Jackson's talents as both a soloist and a composer.
- Alex Henderson, All Music Guide