Jump to content
jazzburger

RIP Paul Jackson

Recommended Posts

I just read that the superb fusion bassman Paul Jackson has died. I have loved his playing for damn near 50 years. RIP

  • Like 1
  • Sad 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Very sad news! 

I always love hearing players like Paul Jackson who make funk sound so easy, without making it sound clinical and 'learnt'.. 

RIP. 

Edited by silverfoxnik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember I saw him when the Headhunters went on tour to promote ‘Return of the Headhunters’. He was a huge man, the bass balanced across his, um, belly, and he walked up to the mic and said “I guess I got a little more funk on me than the last time I was here”, patted his belly and went on to absolutely tear the house down - absolutely amazing. So funky. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Total bummer! The Headhunters album was a gateway for me from mainly listening to rock and funk, to discovering jazz and fusion. My bass teacher turned me onto it when I was 18. Paul Jackson - what a colossal player!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't really know him other than by rep, but listening to those two makes me wanna go find some more.  Tighter than a gnats chuff and right in the pocket.

Damn shame.

 

A

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Scott Devine:

By Jonathan Herrera
 
mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fscottsbasslessons
“It was a killer bass line, but that's how Paul was; he could come up with things nobody else could."
– Herbie Hancock, on Paul Jackson’s last-minute change to the bass line on “Actual Proof.”
On March 18, 2021, music lost one of its most singular characters, the inimitable Paul Jackson. To bass players, he’s a demi-god, and though civilians may not know his name, they know his bass lines: Head Hunters, the confusingly titled debut of Herbie Hancock’s seminal funk-fusion band of the same-ish name (the band is “Headhunters”), was the first jazz record to sell over one million copies and is enshrined in the U.S. Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically important.”

Like, “legend,” the word “genius” gets thrown around loosely nowadays. I’ve heard a friend describe a local barista adept at intricate latte art, a “genius,” and another extoll the virtues of her “genius” dog because he figured out how to turn a doorknob. Nevertheless, it’s sometimes the only word that adequately describes a person’s transformative contribution to their vocation. Bach was a genius. So was John Steinbeck. And Michael Jordan, Marie Curie, and Emily Dickinson. Geniuses change things. They first operate within an existing paradigm, then bend it, break it, and forever expand its boundaries.

Paul Jackson was a genius. With Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Jackson redefined funk bass playing. Not to take anything from his contemporaries—players like Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, Bernard Edwards, and Rocco Prestia—but Paul Jackson approached the bass role with a singularly restless spontaneity. Rather than digging deep into a repetitive vamp or making his instrument a kind of highly orchestrated pitched kick-drum partner, Jackson would develop and alter his lines on a bar-by-bar basis, subtly shifting note placement, register, and intensity with seemingly infinite variety. That he did this without ever disrupting the pocket puts him in the same rarefied territory as James Jamerson, who also somehow managed to be both the busiest and deepest-grooving bass player of his time.

While Paul Jackson was relentlessly creative and spontaneous, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a box of tricks. Far from it. In fact, Paul Jackson-isms are immediately among the most recognizable on the instrument. Want to try one? Slide aggressively from the 5 to the flat-3 of any key you’re playing in and then quickly wiggle your finger between the flat- and natural 3rds. How many other players’ gift to the bass dictionary takes just two notes to recognize?
mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fscottsbasslessons
Paul Jackson was from Oakland, California, which made him an important member of the same remarkably funky stew that brought us Rocco Prestia and Bobby Vega. In the early-’70s there was something about the Bay Area’s unique amalgam of styles—the expansive psychedelia of San Francisco and Oakland’s vibrant African American culture—that proved the perfect formula for catalyzing a uniquely intricate brand of funk. In cahoots with his friend, the ingenious and sophisticated drummer Mike Clark, Paul Jackson had already established himself on the local scene when Herbie Hancock called to see if he’d be interested in joining a new project. While drummer Harvey Mason filled the drum chair on Head Hunters, his reluctance to tour found Clark in the seat for the band’s remaining three records: ThrustFlood, and Manchild. Funk-fusion classics lace each record and I guarantee at this very moment a band is somewhere playing “Chameleon” (with the bass player likely playing Herbie’s famed synth line, rather than Paul’s insanely funky high-register ostinato) or taking a first-stab at “Actual Proof,” a serpentine proving ground for generations of would-be serious musicians.

Jackson and Clark kept the Headhunters going after Herbie moved on, although the split was amicable (Herbie would go on to guest on several later Headhunters records and Paul continued to appear as a sideman with Herbie through the ’70s). Jackson also released a handful of solo records, including the rare-groove masterpiece Black Octopus in 1978. The late ’70s also found him enjoying an eclectic session career, appearing on albums with artists as wide-ranging as Sonny Rollins (Easy Living), Eddie Henderson (Heritage, Comin’ Through, and Mahal), and Santana (Festival). But the later part of Jackson’s career is most defined by his move to Japan in 1985, where he resided until his death. There, Jackson wrote and arranged music for movies and television, collaborated with big-name Japanese artists like Char and Sadao Watanabe, and established “Jazz for Kids,” a voluntary enrichment program that toured Japanese elementary schools with the goal of promoting African American history via music and presentation.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Paul Jackson over the past few days. Honestly, this is not that much of a change in my listening habits. He is easily among my favourite players, and those four Headhunters records possess that rare depth that makes them fresh and exciting even after the millionth listen. But naturally, my listening has taken on a renewed focus since the sad news of his passing. I began to consider what exactly it was about Paul that I admire; that I so wish I could emulate in my own playing. After much thought, I came to this conclusion: confidence. Paul Jackson played every note like he meant it; like there was no other place for that note to be but right there. He had a voice, and used that voice with intention and pride. With every note he said, “I’m here! Listen!”

May we all be so lucky to live—and play—as confidently as Paul Jackson. RIP!
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...