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Chicago Jazz Magazine
September 30, 2009
Actual Story

The 3rd Annual Franz Jackson Jazz Celebration

A long-standing Chicago jazz staple, the world-renowned Salty Dogs will bring their old-school, traditional jazz sound to Michiana with a concert at The Wood Fire Italian Trattoria in Dowagiac, Michigan on Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 7:00pm.

A favorite of jazz audiences throughout the country and around the world, the Salty Dogs have performed at some of the biggest jazz festivals and will be a familiar name to Michiana jazz lovers as they have played the Elkhart Jazz Festival for several years.

“The Dogs” started as a college jazz group in 1947 at Purdue University and honed their skills performing for Hoosier audiences when Indiana was part of the performing and recording circuit for the great musicians of that time: Hoagy Charmichael, King Oliver, Bix Biederbecke and Louis Armstrong all recorded in Richmond, Indiana with many of their sidemen settling in Chicago. The Salty Dogs left Purdue in the 1960’s to start playing professionally in venues throughout the country, leaving a small contingent of Purdue students to carry on the college group.

Today, many of the same original musicians carry on The Dogs tradition and the band has been acclaimed as one of the foremost traditional jazz bands in the world. In the 50’s and 60’s many of those great musicians mentioned above played side-by-side with the Salty Dogs. Among them, the late Chicago tenor saxophonist, Franz Jackson who recorded the album “Yellow Fire” with The Dogs in 1990.

The 3rd Annual Franz Jackson Jazz Celebration honors Jackson, a former Dowagiac resident, for his lifelong contribution to the music world. Franz Jackson, who passed away at the age of 95 in May, 2008, started his professional career at the age of 16 with boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and played with virtually every renowned jazz great including Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Noone, Earl Hines, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. His resume boasted credits as a repeat command performer for the King of Sweden, a 2005 American Heritage Jazz Series Honoree as one of the Greatest Living Jazz Tenor Saxophonists, an appearance on “The Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor and an interview by Studs Terkel for Steppenwolf Theater’s TRAFFIC series on improvised music. In 2006, he received a nomination for the National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship and was the recipient of the Jazz Institute of Chicago Walter Dyett Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jackson continued his career until shortly before his death, appearing at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in May, 2007.

In November, 2007, Mr. Jackson’s 95th birthday was celebrated in Dowagiac with a nearly 3-hour-long gala concert featuring two dozen musicians from across the country. The event raised over $7,000 which was donated to four non-profit organizations focused on arts education, preservation and promotion.

Sponsored by Sunny 101.5, The Wood Fire Italian Trattoria and Encore School of The Arts, concert tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children 14 and under. Tickets may be purchased online at, or by calling The Wood Fire at 269-782-0007. Please visit or for more information.

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