Wesley Jackson

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Tenor saxophonist and flutist Wesley Jackson should not be confused with a somewhat senior performer by this name whose guitar stylings are an important part of early hits by Little Richard and Ray Charles.…
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Tenor saxophonist and flutist Wesley Jackson should not be confused with a somewhat senior performer by this name whose guitar stylings are an important part of early hits by Little Richard and Ray Charles. The younger Jackson certainly can be said to come out of a similar stream of musical philosophy, a band called the Blackbyrds, which -- like the aforementioned rhythm and blues giants at their best -- fabricated commercial hits with material unrolled from the primary genres of creative black music.

Trumpeter Donald Byrd, a veteran of the Blue Note funky jazz sound, came up with the concept for the Blackbyrds as a way of getting radio airplay for his trumpet solos in the heavily anti-jazz atmosphere of the early '70s. He selected accompanying players from among his top students at Howard University. Jackson's participation in the venture came along in the middle of the decade when the group began to strike out on its own, leaving mentor Byrd busy with faculty meetings and angry letters to jazz magazines critical of his pop direction. The reed player did much to help complete Unfinished Business in 1976, an album that included the hits "Time Is Movin'" and "Partyland."