It's a shame that resurgence of popular interest in the work of mid-20th-century bebop artists like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis hasn't brought about a comparable interest in great regional players like native San Diegan, tenor master Daniel Jackson. His credits read like a jazz encyclopedia--from an early apprenticeship with Harold Land to gigs with Jimmie Smith, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Willie Bobo and Buddy Rich, composing and recording with Lenny McBrowne, and a stint as a touring member of the Ray Charles Orchestra. His stature is high among fellow musicians, and not just locally, and his playing is currently as strong and inventive as ever.
Yet Jackson lacks a regular gig in his hometown. It's so baffling that when out-of-town detractors slam San Diego's lack of culture, even as I defend it, I can't help but secretly assent. Not enough music lovers in this town seek out much more than the latest trendy band.
Yes, when Jackson plays, authentic jazz lovers find him. His recent 69th birthday concert at Dizzy's was sold out, with fans young and old crowding the sidewalk outside to listen. But what if everyone in San Diego with a John Coltrane CD in their collection knew that a presence of that magnitude lived right in their own town, and that there was a rare but real chance to hear him play live?
When Daniel Jackson says our troubled planet needs a "deep space traveler to show up and remind us how beautiful we are, so we can love each other, and stop killing each other," you can bet that he believes he is that deep space traveler. But you don't have to take his word for it. You just need to hear this dude play.