05/04/11

Boston Jazz Community Salutes DJ Eric Jackson

Longtime jazz radio host celebrated at two events connected with JazzBoston’s Jazz Week

Jazz radio host Eric Jackson has been a mainstay of the Boston jazz community for well over 30 years. Known for not only his in-depth knowledge and relaxed on-air presence, Jackson has also been a champion of emerging, established and overlooked jazz artists in the area. Recently, jazz artists, professionals and fans returned the favor with two evenings celebrating the local DJ’s 30th anniversary on the air and his contributions to the local scene.

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Wannetta Jackson and Grace Kelly performing at Eric in Two Evenings event in Boston
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Ron Della Chiesa and Fred Taylor at Eric in Two Evenings event in Boston
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Harry Maisonet, Tim Ingles, Sergio Bellotti (partly hidden), Myanna and Cercie Miller at Eric in Two Evenings event in Boston
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Harry Maisonet, Tim Ingles, Wannetta Jackson, Sergio Bellotti (mostly hidden), Grace Kelly and Bill Banfield at Eric in Two Evenings event
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Wannetta Jackson, Sergio Bellotti, Grace Kelly, Bill Banfield at Eric in Two Evenings event at Scullers
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Eric Jackson and Pauline Bilsky at Eric in Two Evenings event at Scullers
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Danilo Perez performing at Eric in Two Evenings event at Scullers
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Danilo Perez and Marrissa Licata performing at Eric in Two Evenings event at Scullers
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Cecil McBee performing at Eric in Two Evenings event at Scullers
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For the fifth year, the organization JazzBoston presented Jazz Week, a series of concerts and events that this year actually spanned 10 days, under the larger banner of Jazz Month. Two of the events comprised “Eric in Two Evenings”, in celebration of Jackson’s long-running radio show mostly on NPR flagship station WGBH, “Eric in the Evening,” recently renamed “Jazz on WGBH with Eric Jackson.”

On Monday, May 2, there was an all-star jam at Scullers, the esteemed area jazz venue, with appearances by dozens of area jazz musicians, some nationally-renowned, others locally-recognized. Among the performers participating in the all-star jam were Danilo Perez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Rebecca Parris, Grace Kelly, Cecil McBee, Ralph Peterson, Dominique Eade, George Garzone, Phil Wilson, Bob Moses and many others. That evening Jackson was presented with the Roy Haynes Award for “exceptional contributions to jazz and the jazz community.” Sponsored by JazzBoston, the award was established last year with a presentation to Boston-bred Haynes and so Jackson is the second recipient. That organization’s executive director, Pauline Bilsky, says that Jackson’s contributions locally have been steady and significant. “Eric's deep pride in Boston's jazz scene and his unflagging support for new talent has been the springboard to a career for scores of jazz artists over the decades,” Bilsky wrote in e-mail to JT. “Rebecca Parris spoke for them all Monday night when she sang to Eric, ‘In this world, I'm so glad there is you.’”

A second evening of celebration is planned for Friday, May 6, at the Regent Theatre in Arlington with a showing of jazz films and clips chosen by Jackson from the collection of jazz video archivist Hal Miller.

In an interview with Michael Symkus of the Boston Herald, Jackson explained that early in his career he considered a dual career as musician and radio host, but he realized that it wouldn’t work for him. Living in Cambridge back in 1970, he had befriended Phillip Musra and Michael Cosmic, twin brother musicians who brought him into their fold. “I went to visit them once,” he told Symkus, “and they started playing for me. There were some percussion instruments on the kitchen table, and I started playing those along with them. About a week later they asked me to join their band. We started doing gigs, maybe for about a year. I was playing percussion and singing with them. But the time commitment to rehearse and play music and do a radio show didn’t work. I chose radio.” Certainly, the Boston jazz community has been all the better for it and they showed their appreciation in a very public way.

For more information about the JazzBoston organization, you can visit their website. To learn more about Jackson’s show on WGBH, you can visit his page on that station’s website.

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