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Frank Jackson: New York After Dark

Boasting as sterling a legacy as Jimmy Norman, San Francisco’s legendary singer-pianist Frank Jackson has heard it all, sung it all and met them all. He went to school with Cal Tjader and Vince Guaraldi, hung with neighbor Teddy Edwards and played with and for Louis Armstrong, Ben Webster, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. In recent years, Jackson has earned renewed interest across the Bay Area with his back-to-back discs I Should Care and Swingin’ and All Dressed to Go. Now, at last, he’s crossed the Golden Gate and traveled all the way to Manhattan (making, he claims, his first visit to the Big Apple) for the twilight delight that is New York After Dark (Kasis). For this consistently fine assemblage of standards, the sprightly Jackson, sounding decades younger than his 78 years, leaves keyboard duties to the late, great James Williams (who died far too young, at age 53, last July), and surrounds himself with three other world-class champs: bassist Ron Carter, drummer Kenny Washington and saxophonist Billy Pierce. Alternately smoldering and swinging, this baker’s dozen of polished chestnuts, spanning the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hart, a boppin’ “Yardbird Suite” and Johnson’s own, tear-stained “It’s Monday Everyday” is a top-drawer testament to a regional giant who’s long, long overdue for some national attention.

Originally Published