D.D. Jackson

...So Far

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This solo recording from the Canadian pianist is dedicated to his many classical and jazz influences in quite the manner of his mentor, the late Don Pullen. But Jackson is emerging as an original expressionist in his own right, exploring dense harmonies, arpeggiated embellishments, and a fortuitous style of improvising that is nothing less than startling. Of the 12 tracks, the more powerful ones -- "Camiliano," "I Mean You," "Round & Round," and "Poco-Loco-Moco," all sport quite different signatures. The first, dedicated to Michel Camilo, has Jackson literally hurtling at the piano, throwing himself into the flying double-time lines. The familiar Thelonious Monk evergreen's melody is played insanely, inhumanely quick. The third, for Vladimir Horowitz, is in 7/8, with a repeated figure that Jackson builds and builds upon to skyscraper proportions in less than six minutes, while a less than two-minute "Poco," dedicated to Bud Powell and inspired by his "Un Poco Loco," rumbles with reckless abandon. On the quieter side a classical and religious theme is stated before hinting at traces of "You Don't Know Me" folding in modal dancing figures for a long "Suite New York." "Playground" (for Claude Debussy) features ascending and descending scales, "Waltz for Mr. (John) Hicks" proves one can play pleasant and compelling music, while a patient "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (for Pullen, Jaki Byard, and Charles Mingus), and a rather atypically impatient version of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" do a switcheroo. "Maybe Not," for Ornette Coleman, changes infinitely as a chameleon, while "Sweet Beginnings (The Wedding Song)" and the finale "Home" provide more change-ups, the former at half, not quarter speed, more soulful than spiritual, eventually flowing into an aisle-march pacing, the latter a meditative, near-gospel or pop melody that could be favorably compared to Elton John's "Levon." Jackson is some kind of performer, pegging the wow! meter on several of these selections, especially "Round & Round." If this doesn't convince you, some of his pervious recordings might, but there's much more ahead for this talent truly deserving of wider recognition. Recommended.

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