Julian Jackson

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Reviews of Julian Jackson


06/03/2006 Chris Parker

Julian Jackson Quartet
I Can't Get Started
With three successive Hohner Harmonica Championships, periods of study at both the Guildhall and Royal Academy, and encouragement from Toots Thielemans and Julian Joseph behind him, Liverpudlian Julian Jackson can reasonably claim to be in the first rank of jazz harmonica players, and this album contains ten great showcases for his extraordinary gift.

Like other performers on 'unusual' jazz instruments (a good parallel might be Richard Galliano on accordion), he impresses initially courtesy solely of his amazing technique, but such surprise quickly gives way to admiration for his fecund musical imagination, an improvisational bent that results in punchy versions of standards such as the album's lengthy title track and 'Autumn Leaves', and an ability to extract genuine emotion (often courtesy of an affecting 'dying fall' at the ends of phrases) from ballads ('Alfie' and Bill Evans's 'Laurie').

With sterling support from a sparky band (pianist Tim Lapthorn, bassist Tom Herbert and drummer Patrick Levett), Jackson turns in a highly impressive performance on this lively, intelligently programmed album.

CHRIS PARKER: Reviewer for The VORTEX website


04/03/2006 Eddie Armer

A Milestone for British Jazz

As my love of jazz broadens, I have come to understand the value of Julian Jackson to our small harmonica community. He is unique. A world class jazz musician who happens to also play the harmonica. Julian’s breadth of musical knowledge and understanding of the harmonica is mind boggling. He puts the instrument through its paces, pushing the harmonica to its limits. Accompanying musicians are kept on their toes by the many musical directions Julian may vere off to within any one piece of music…indeed, in any one solo. Only players at the top of their game are able to stay abreast of Julian once he is in full flow.

One cold February night earlier this year I saw Julian play to a packed house of jazz fans at my local pub ! The Three Horse Shoes in Knockholt, Kent. At his side were some of the cream of British jazz: On clarinet Julian Marc Stringle, of whom John Dankworth once said "finest jazz clarinettist to emerge in Britain in several generations" trading licks, the two Julian's beamed as they swapped phrases and delighted in the 'Jazz Gymnastics' that they were performing. With each solo they upped the temperature by the crotchet, until exploding in applause from an appreciative audience. The rest of this stella line up, whom Julian had only met for the first time that evening, were Bobby Worth - drums (Buddy Greco, Acker Bilk), Len Skeat - double bass (Stephane Grappelli, Peggy Lee), Ronnie Hughes - (Ted Heath, Sinatra), Alan Humm - piano (Morrisey). They played a varied set, including ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’ and in addition Julian had a full length feature of ‘Body & Soul’. And for lovers of the blues, the band finished with a Jazz Blues Jam. 'It was a blues Jim, but not as we know it'. Wonderful stuff.

We should all be pleased that Jazz promoter and Julian's manager, John Levett, has produced Julian Jackson's debut CD ‘I Can’t Get Started’ on the ‘33’ label. I asked Julian why after so many years of guesting on other artists albums, the time had been right to make his first CD in his own right; and Julian put it down to his ongoing working relationship with the talented Tim Lapthorn Piano Trio, whom he has worked with for the past few years. Julian was also very pleased with the studio recording for the album produced by John Levett, which was recorded live in a single session. It was also the first time that Julian has been truly happy with a finished result, in terms of putting out an album. I recommend that you get hold of Julian’s CD and judge for yourself. Available from www.jazzcds.co.uk or any good record shop Cat Ref : 33JAZZ129

Eddie Armer March 2006


20/02/2006 Geoff Eales

You only have to listen to the first few seconds of this album to realize that Julian Jackson is a true master of the harmonica and that he has a tone to rival that of his heroes, Larry Aldler and Toots Thielemans, the super abundance of his ideas and his natural jazz feeling recalling the great Toots in particular.

Jackson has put together a nicely balanced programme for his debut solo jazz album. His harmonica sings beautifuly on the ballads "Alfie", "I Can't Get Started" and "When I Fall in Love", the latter an impressive a cappella version of Victor Young's classic tune, and effervesces on the swingers "I Hear a Rhapsody" and "Autumn Leaves". Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" is an exhilarating work-out for the quartet and features a telling solo from the talented Tim Lapthorn on piano. Jackson takes us on a wonderful musical journey on Jaco Pastorius' searching jazz waltz "Three Views of a Secret" with Lapthorn at his bluesy best, Patrick Levett displaying some impressive jazz-rock chops on drums. Jackson's lilting theme "Etude No 1" recalls the work of bossa nova genius Antonio Carlos Jobim, Michel LeGrand's haunting "You Must Believe in Spring" similarly
infused with hypnotically swaying latin rhythms after its poignant rubato beginning.

The album ends with Bill Evans' exquisite melody "Laurie", the last few bars evanescing into the ether with a series of harmonically ambiguous suspended chords, leaving the listener in a state of supreme calm.

Finally, taking time off from his bass guitar duties with award-winning groups Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, Tom Herbert is rock-solid on acoustic bass, providing the necessary foundation for Jackson and co. to take flight.

GEOFF EALES - Feb 2006.


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