Sept. 9 2014 05:54 PM

Jazz musician died last week after battle with cancer

Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson

San Diego lost one of its musical heroes on Sept. 3, when jazz saxophonist and pianist Daniel Jackson died after a battle with bladder cancer. He was 77. 

Born in La Jolla, Jackson had a long career that included playing alongside greats such as Buddy Rich and Ray Charles, as well as having built up a reputation as one of the biggest names in jazz in San Diego. 

After Jackson's death, many in the San Diego music scene offered tributes and recollections of hearing Jackson play or playing with him, showing just how widely respected and admired he is in the city.

For example, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos said on Facebook that Jackson was "a teacher to many of us... Your music and spirit will live on forever!" 

Ingrid Croce, owner of Bankers Hill jazz club Croce's Park West, recalls the first time she met Jackson at Croce's downtown in the '80s.

"He was sitting at our Steinway Baby Grand," she says in an email to CityBeat. "The coolest man in the whole damn town was playing piano at our club—I couldn't believe it!"

Jackson didn't achieve the same level of success nationally as he did locally, which was by choice. He stayed in San Diego and taught music to others, as well as performing regularly at clubs like Croce's, Dizzy's and the Prince of Wales Room at the Hotel del Coronado. In 2010, San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye officially declared the week of Jan. 24 to be Daniel Jackson Week. And, in 2013, he earned the Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Diego Music Awards. His final performance was at Dizzy's in April. 

"Daniel Jackson, with his wry sense of humor, had a profound way of looking at the world at large—he liked it small," Croce says. "Though he could have travelled anywhere in the world for fame and fortune, he stayed in San Diego mentoring so many wonderful Jazz musicians.

"He is one of my favorite people ever." 

Email or follow him at @1000TimesJeff


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