D.D. Jackson - piano
John Geggie - bass
Jean Martin - drums
Special Guest: David Murray - tenor sax
All compositions written and arranged by D.D. Jackson
For this recording, I played a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano
Thank You's and Dedications
D.D. Jackson is one of the very special new lights in New York City. A few years back Don Pullen called me and made mention that he had one precocious student who he thought was ready. Coming from Mr. Pullen, who many of us feel is the best, this meant something; besides, Don is not one to just throw around accolades.
Having played with D.D. in duo, as well as in my quartet and octet, I can truly say that he has arrived; that his brilliant emergence at the Motnreal Jazz Festival this past summer, together with this recording, will successfully launch what promises to be a spectacular career for him as a dynamic international pianist.
- David Murray
Playing with David is always a tremendous source of inspiration, and he was a natural choice for my first recording. Many thanks to him, as well as Jean and John for their inspired performances. I would also like to thank Don Pullen for his past guidance, as well as Jaki Byard, Dina Namer, and M.P., who helped me to realize my true direction. Thanks also to the Ontario Arts Council (Chalmers) and the Canada Council for their past assistance, and everyone at Justin Time. Most of all, thanks to my parents and family, for their continued love and support -
I dedicate this album to them and to the memory of my older brothr Chris.
- D.D. Jackson
Liner Notes Excerpt (by Howard Mandel):
D.D. Jackson is a real contender: a determined and deepy musical young pianist of original thought and training that encompasses Western European classicism, yet moves well beyond it, into jazz. A debut album as open, intense and rangey as this one immediately alerts the listener that its prime motivator has something to say that's worth hearing from its earliest manifestation. The flood of D.D.'s passions throughout Peace-Song promises there's much more to come.
Though Jackson's music suggests all that, it doesn't detail his Asian and Afro-American ethnicity, his upbringing in Ottawa, Canada, or his self-directed education. A Master's degree in jazz from Manhattan School of Music and a bachelor's in classical piano from Indiana University - plus a token - usually gets one on New York City's subway. Being able to apply acquired knowledge and techniques to a gift for song and expressive drive felt since childhood (D.D. started studying the keyboard at age six, and says he freely improvised then), and being able to impress such renowned iconoclasts as Don Pllen and Jaki Byard (two of D.D.'s former piano teachers) of one's serious intent may earn an up-and-coming player a bit of buzz.
Yet Jackson's skills in composition, interpretation, improvisation and interaction have gained him much more. Born in 1967, by 1995 he's convinced a front line of jazz notables of his worth, having created a place for himself in saxophonist David Murray's quartet and octet, violinist Billy Bang's ensembles, auteur Kip Hanrahan's "Conjure" band, and with reedists Jane Bunnett and Dewey Redman. D.D. - an endearment from Chinese for "little brother" - concertizes with his own trio and maintains a regular profile at Manhattan clubs including Sweet Basil, the Knitting Factory, the Cooler, Birdland and Visiones. He's just begun...
"I tend to absorb things by osmosis, rather than by studying their specifics", says the pianist with mature self-assurance, "so I like to listen to everything, stay open and not be confined to any one stule of composing or improvising. I want to express myself as fully and freely as possible - that's my goal. I have great respect for the jazz tradition, and don't feel the need to completely refute it. I hope, though, to establish something personal and original, something in my own unique voice."
In Peace-Song, Jackson addresses a full dynamic range and the breadth of the piano keyboard. He's a percussive player, wielding a strong attack and sweeping gestures, exploding fast lines with muscular clusters.
"Don Pullen has certainly been a big influence on me", explains D.D., who first met Pullen at a master class, "but his influence has been primarily conceptual. I was experimenting with some of the techniques we share for exploiting the full resources of the piano during my classical years. Don channeled and encouraged me more specifically towards a jazz context, and freed me up, gave me confidence".
Besides power, D.D. elicits grace, tenderness, delicacy. He has impressive independence of hands, but uses them interdepently to form his ideas and make his points. Bach, Beethove, and the Romantics including Rachmaninoff attracted him before he heard much jazz; now Thelonious Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea are among his favorites. Jackson identifies these as "some of the true originators - not offering just slight variations, but really trying to do something conceptually new."
The precedents of all the great jazz originators - not just its pianists - fuel D.D.'s music, though his own light shines most brightly, as it should in a music that celebrates the contributions of everyone who comes to it. Nor is his identity in question; marked by soulful integrity, it's fully developed and seemingly inherent, neither forced nor contrived. He credits his parents with his orientation towards achievement, but says they never pushed on him the culture of China (his mother was 13 when she left the mainland to join her father, an ambassador to th eUN, in New York), or black Knoxville, Tennessee (or, for that matter, Latin America - D.D.'s father, a professor of Spanish at Carleton University in Ottawa, has made a speciality of AFro-Hispanic literature).
As for his Canadian connection, Jackson recalls seeing Oscar Peterson in his youth - "He was the first jazz pianist I saw, and was my first major influence. I was impressed by his rhythmical swing and his absorption of the blues idiom" - and is grateful for the high regard his native country affords the arts, which extended to financial grants assisting his university and independent studies. D.D. considers it coincidental that his bassist John Geggie and drummer Jean Martin are also native-born Ottawans.
"When I was growing up I had no clue there were people in my hometown - the fourth largest city in Canada, and the nation's capital - who had musical interests compatible with mine", he says. Having lived in Manhattan for five years, D.D. met Geggie and Martin, founding members of the acclaimed Canadian quartet Chelsea Bridge, during his '94 visit home to play the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. He values their flexibility..."