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Cliff Jackson - Crazy Rhythm

Total Length: 33:44

Tin Roof Blues - 4.55 
Carolina Shout - 2.31 
I'm Coming Virginia - 3.55 
Crazy Rhythm - 2.49 
Beale Street Blues - 3.28 
Someday Sweetheart - 2.51 
Honeysuckle Rose - 4.25 
Ain't Misbehavin' - 3.53 
S Wonderful - 2.06 
You Took Advantage of Me - 2.40 
Who's Sorry Now - 2.51 


Like Duke Ellington and Claude Hopkins, Cliff Jackson was a talented stride pianist whose roots were in Washington, D.C., though he moved to New York City to stay by his early twenties. He was overshadowed by giants of the idiom like James P. Johnson, Willie the Lion Smith and Fats Waller, while later stylists like Ralph Sutton also became more widely known as stride pianists, though not because he was unequal as a performer. Jackson came to New York City in the 1920s to join Lionel Howard’s Musical Aces. A capable freelancer and powerful player who recorded now and then, Jackson also briefly lead a big band called the Krazy Kats, which made a few recordings. Much of the remainder of his career was as a solo pianist, though he made recordings as a sideman with Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins, Bunk Johnson and Hot Lips Page. Married to vocalist Maxine Sullivan, they occasionally worked together. Cliff Jackson died following a heart attack in 1970. These solo sessions from 1961 and 1962 in the final decade of Jackson’s life find him very much still at the top of his game. He plunges into a frenetic interpretation of Johnson’s signature work “Carolina Shout” (which a young Duke Ellington learned by slowing down a piano roll), with a furious, inventive bass line. His loping take of “I’m Coming, Virginia” allows the listener to pay greater attention to his gift for improvising. Jackson is adept in his renditions of Waller’s music. He restores the oft-omitted verse to “Honeysuckle Rose,” opening it with a delicate air then gradually picking up steam to swing it at a breezy tempo. Even better is his rollicking take of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which blends humor and terrific chops into the perfect jazz cocktail. Jackson’s rolling introduction to George Gershwin’s “‘S Wonderful” sounds like a young Art Tatum, while his reworking of the song never strays far from its melodic base. Jackson is also drenched in the blues with his weary, heavy-hearted rendition of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings’ “Tin Roof Blues.” This is an amazing compilation of a gifted pianist who deserved to be better known during his lifetime.

 
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