Franz Jackson's 80th Birthday Party | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Franz Jackson's 80th Birthday Party

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Franz Jackson is a living chunk of jazz history, having grown up playing the first jazz as handed down by Louis Armstrong, then working with a rogues' gallery of the swing era--including Roy Eldridge, Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Cootie Williams and (perhaps his most famous association) the Grand Terrace Band led by Earl Hines. Yet for all that, Jackson is no museum piece, as he proves again on the recently issued Snag It (Delmark), in which 60 years of committed music making overwhelm any genre-specific considerations. Jackson plays old music, but it's music he first played when it was new: in his hands, it gleams with the creators' stamp. And if he tends to conserve energy these days by putting down his trademark tenor sax in favor of the less physically demanding clarinet--from which he extracts a deep tone that approximates the consistency of molasses (a la another former employer, Jimmie Noone)--he still expends it in exuberant vocals, crackerjack tempos, and solos that ignore cliche and stand as models of improvisational cunning. At his birthday party Jackson will be joined by longtime confreres Jim Beebe (trombone), Sonny Turner (trumpet), Joe Johnson (piano), Wayne Jones (drums), and an indeterminate number of guest celebrants. Friday, noon, Andy's, 11 E. Hubbard; 642-6805.

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