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D.D. Jackson at the Bird


The dynamic pianist D.D. Jackson visited the Bird of Paradise in Ann Arbor on the first weekend in December. I was glad to be able to catch the two sets on Friday the 6th by his trio, which featured Austrian-born bassist Hans Glawischnig and the great drummer Reggie Nicholson.

The trio was put together just for this tour, but that was not obvious to any of us in attendance. Nicholson has played with many great names in modern and avant garde jazz — most notably Don Pullen, who is Jackson's most significant piano mentor. Like Pullen, Jackson is a very accomplished and percussive player. His playing has a veritable physicality that most audiences pick up on right away. This was on display on his very interesting composition, "Jam Band," where his keyboard fireworks included bold chords, muscle and swing. On this tune, Nicholson showed what an expert accompanist he is. His solo was nothing short of electrifying.

On "David's Tune," dedicated to tenor great David Murray, Jackson impressed with some brilliant upper keyboard passages that were crystal clear. He can also be a very gentle player as on "For Desdemona," which he dedicated to D. Bardin, a recently deceased jazz photographer. This and other ballads showed his penchant for the romantic side of the piano literature. This should have been no surprise since, in a WEMU interview with Michael Jewett earlier that day, Jackson mentioned Rachmaninov as one of his house gods.

In all, this was a very satisfying performance by one the rising stars of piano jazz. You can hear him on Sigame, his most recent CD, on the Justin Time label.

photograph by Lars Bjorn

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