[6/1/2003] - Toronto Star review of Suite for New York
Here's a clever distillation of how the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 affected the Ottawa-born, New York-based pianist and composer, a portrait of the city linked by improvised "invocations" that he wrote, arranged and conducted. There's even more Canadian content here, with trumpeter Brad Turner, cellist Peggy Lee, bari saxist David Mott and trombonist Tom Walsh joined by frequent Hogtown visitor, drummer Dafnis Prieto from Cuba, and Americans Christian Howes (violin), James Spaulding (flute, reeds) and Ugonna Okegwo (bass). The music's bold, dense textures with heavy rhythms are broken up by sparking moments illuminating the abrasive side of the Big Apple and freestyle soloing. The spontaneity comes easily to players freed from through-composed ensembles. Jackson's programmatic notions work well with "City Awakening" and "Central Park" and though he solos infrequently (but tellingly) his conceptual focus remains steady in an ambitious bid to merge jazz with classical music. The sense of city is often captured brilliantly with striking aural images representing the fast, harsh life as well as its calm. Good examples are "Hopes And Dreams" and the raucous "BQE."
- Geoff Chapman, the Toronto Star