Alto saxophonist Ed Jackson has built a vast and varied career both as a leader and as one of the founders of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. In recent years he has also become the owner and proprietor of The Jackson Room, a live jazz venue located in the St. Albans neighborhood of the Borough of Queens, NY that has recently featured such well-known New York scene players as George Cables, Carlton Homes and Tom Browne. His most recent recording, Live was recorded released in 2016, was its name implies very live in the friendly confines of The Jackson Room.
Along with spirited versions of Freddie Hubbard’s “To Her Ladyship,” John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice” and Ornette Coleman’s “Happy House,” Live features five Jackson originals including the topical “Hurricane Sandy” and even a jam named for his club, “The Jackson Room.” The sterling ensemble Ed assembled for the project includes Freddie Hendrix (trumpet, flugelhorn), Tom Browne(trumpet), Carlton Holmes (piano), Essiet Essiet (bass) and Lionel Cordew (drums).
A native of Jamaica, Queens, Ed Jackson grew up in a jazz-centric household thanks to his brother, the well-known jazz bassist Dave Jackson, who played with Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal and Lou Donaldson among many others.
Spending his formative college years in Boston, Jackson is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied under the great multi-instrumentalist and composer Jaki Byard and played in a jazz big band called the Apollo Stompers who often gigged at Wally’s, a club near the school. During his time at the NE Conservatory, Jackson as honored to become an ambassador of goodwill for the school in the process traveling to Europe and getting his first taste of playing internationally.
Praised in the jazz press for “Blowing forth steamy hot cool jazz beyond human description,” Ed who is gifted on the alto saxophone, now also plays flute and soprano saxophone. He returned to New York City after school and plunged into being a working jazz musician. He vividly remembers his early days in the NYC jazz scene.
“When I graduated, my brother who was playing with Lou Donaldson at the time, invited me to come to a rehearsal. I remember Lou saying to me in his high voice, `So you graduated huh, well, you’re in the real school now. And he was right.”
In 1984, Jackson became one of the founding members of the much acclaimed 29th Street Saxophone Quartet with tenor saxophonist Rich Rothenberg, baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog and fellow alto player Bobby Watson. John Wilson wrote in The New York Times that "The ensemble playing is clean, precise and tightly together, but the solos are filled with slashing, exuberant abandon. At times it is the very essence of loose, free jazz but it also uses the heavy, stylized sound of Stan Kenton's saxophone writing. The four musicians are choreographed in shifting formations to spotlight soloists and in dance movements that extend the musical movements." After touring Europe a number of times and building an extensive catalog of recordings including several on the Antilles label, the Quartet disbanded in 2005.
Having developed a distinctive personal style and a dynamic solo sound that encompasses both the traditions and future of jazz, Jackson has played with Roy Haynes, T.S. Monk, Sam Rivers and many others during his progressively distinguished career. While he continues to hone his composing, arranging and performing skills at his club, Jackson’s next recording project, My Brazilian Heart will be released in 2019.