In the musicians' world filled with very few degrees of separation, saxophonist Javon Jackson speaks insightfully about the broad, yet intimate family of jazz performers.
"Jazz is a small community where everybody knows everybody," he explains. "People who do what they do on a certain level all kind of migrate with each other. There are obviously people in the jazz world I haven't played with, but there are very few I haven't met."
It was by way of touring and recording with the late Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers that Jackson was introduced to (and subsequently worked with) the likes of Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Bobby Hutcherson, Stanley Turrentine and many more. And just as Blakey mentored him, Jackson now delights in introducing young talent, such as pianist Joel Holmes, to audiences.
This Friday and Saturday at Bohemian Caverns, Jackson, who has played on more than 125 recordings and has developed his own career as a band leader and recording artist, appears along with Holmes, bass player David Williams and drummer Willie Jones III, to entertain the audiences with tunes from his 13th and latest album, "Lucky 13."
|» Where: Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW|
|» When: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday|
|» Info: $25; 202-299-0800; bohemiancaverns.com|
The album encompasses 13 recently composed original songs, along with one from Stevie Wonder's song book ("Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing") and three with the legendary soul jazz pianist, vocalist and composer Les McCann.
"We'll be doing some of Les McCann's signature pieces such as 'With These Hands' " Jackson said. "And we'll be doing [his version of] 'Amazing Grace.' "
Jackson, who was raised in Denver, began working professionally at local jazz clubs at the age of 16 and was also a member of the McDonald's All-American Band. It was during that period that he met and befriended Branford Marsalis, who encouraged him to attend Boston's Berklee School of Music. During that time, Jackson toured with the Messengers until Blakey's death in 1990.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without him," Jackson said of those years. "Blakey taught me how to be a man; he taught me how to be a leader."
Now Jackson continues to tour with McCann, even as he passes the music on to new talent, saying what was said to him growing up: "Welcome to the family."
"You support people who are coming up, and they support you later in life," he said.