Saxophonist Javon Jackson was raised in Cleveland and then Denver, and through his parents’ music collection had early exposure to some of the greatest musicians in jazz. Choosing the alto saxophone as his first musical instrument, Jackson’s early influences included Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt. He went on to study at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston and switched to tenor saxophone. He primarily was influenced by the lush-toned giant, Joe Henderson. While at Berklee instructor Donald Brown, who was also serving as the current pianist for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, arranged for Javon to sit in with the legendary drummer at a New York jazz club. Liking what he heard, Blakey immediately offered Javon the tenor sax position with the Jazz Messengers, thus launching Jackson’s professional career on the national and international stage.
The Jazz Messengers have long been regarded as the principal training ground for young talented players, most of whom have gone on to lead their own bands, thanks to the exemplary and rigorous tutelage of the Art Blakey. During his tenure as a Jazz Messenger (1987 - 1990), Jackson recorded and toured along side fellow Jazz Messengers saxophonist Kenny Garrett, trumpeters Wallace Roney and Terence Blanchard, and pianists Mulgrew Miller, and Benny Green with whom he still frequently collaborates.
Remaining with the Jazz Messengers until Blakey’s untimely death in 1990, Jackson then went on to tour and record with the Harper Brothers, Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Larry Coryell, Ron Carter and Charlie Haden. In all, Jackson has an impressive discography of over 100 recordings. He has recorded as a leader on Criss Cross, Blue Note, and currently is under contract with Palmetto Records.
The current quartet certainly has a Jazz Messengers feel to it with fellow Art Blakey alumnus, the electrifying Benny Green on piano; Carl Allen, who leads a tribute band to Blakey and Elvin Jones, The Art of Elvin, is in the drum chair; and bassist Nat Reeves, who is most closely associated with the bands of Kenny Garrett and the very recently departed alto saxophone legend, Jackie McLean.
While this band will explore the entire post-bop repertoire, there definitely will be a hard-bop flavor in tribute to the ultimate band leader, Art Blakey. This will be a hard swinging concert from start to finish.