|"Definitely Not Your Parent's Opera"|
|Open-minded. Experimental. Not many people would use those words to describe opera. But jazz pianist-composer D.D. Jackson does. And when he explains what he means, it's hard not to agree. Unlike musical theatre -- which, as the composer of the off-Broadway hit, Mytholojazz, he also knows something about -- opera, he says, doesn't demand "everything be completely clear and explained to you from the beginning." That may make jazz and opera perfect soulmates.|
That's what Guelph Jazz Festival organizers are banking on when they premiere the jazz-opera Québécité, on Sept. 5. They're also counting on the sheer amount of talent behind it: ever-provocative artistic director Ajay Heble commissioned the production for the festival's 10th anniversary; Governor General's Award-winning poet George Elliott Clarke penned the words; a stellar lineup of jazz, gospel, Punjabi-folk and R & B/acid jazz musicians will bring it to life; and the Ottawa-born, New York City-based Jackson wrote the music. He also provided fodder for the storyline. A memoir written by his African-American father and Chinese-born mother helped inspire Clarke's libretto about two mixed-race couples living in Quebec City.
Like the Guelph, Ont., festival itself, Jackson, 36, knows how to push the limits of jazz. He's worked the avant-garde scene with the likes of violinist Billy Bang and tenor-sax man David Murray, and written a sweeping jazz-orchestral arrangement for his latest CD, Suite for New York. Québécité (which will also be performed at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre on Oct. 17 and 18), he insists, is on the accessible end of the spectrum. "There's always been a melodic bent in my music," he says. "I can't help myself." And be it jazz or opera, who can resist a good tune?
| Sue Ferguson, Maclean's Magazine||
|"D.D. Jackson is, at his best, the most inventive pianist under 50, dashing across the keyboard with preternatural speed yet never losing his classical grace and precision or his left-hand bluesy roots...."|
-- - Fred Kaplan, The Absolute Sound
|Suite for New York:|
An impressive montage of controlled chaos, exciting solo work and promise of things to come: a febrile fusion of futuristic jazz, contemporary classical, streetwise funk and Afro-Cuban sensuality.
-- - Jazz Times Magazine
"The score is a powerful, identifiably Jacksonesque effort full of energy, rhythm, and flourish..."
-- - Mark Miller, the Globe and Mail
"Swinging, immediate and risk-taking, Sigame is everything a great jazz album should be."
-- - Pulse magazine
|"They should have called it "Stand Back, Here Comes D.D. Jackson." This passionate young Canadian pianist sounds like a state-of-the-art player piano exceeding the limits of human performance. "......So Far" is clearly a contender for jazz record of the year. Don't miss it."|
-- Steve Guttenberg, Audio magazine