Franz Jackson, one of the few remaining tenor saxophone players of the Pre-Swing era jazz passed away this week at the age of 95.
Franz Jackson began his life long love affair with the saxophone at the age of twelve, influenced by the music of Louis Armstrong. He played his first gig in Chicago in 1929 at the age of sixteen. According to his online biography, Jackson was one of the last musicians to learn Chicago Jazz from its originators. In the '30s and '40s he continued his educations with jazz greats like Earl Hines, Benny Carter and Albert Ammons. Later starting his own group called the Chicago Jazz Stars. Music historian Richard Wang says he owes his love of jazz to Franz Jackson and that’s something he shares with many who heard him play.
WANG: He made me aware of jazz history because he was a living legend and veteran of jazz history. His loss will leave us without any representatives of that era of formative of Jazz in Chicago and elsewhere
Wang says that Jackson played with the spirit of traditional New Orleans jazz at a time when the tenor saxophone was a new member of the Jazz family.
WANG: You know one of the great things about a jazz player who finds his own voice is that they continue to develop that own voice. You didn’t listen to Franz Jackson expecting to hear someone who played like Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young. He just was an original and Chicago was very fortunate to have him, here for so many decades and performing.
Franz Jackson Died Tuesday Morning. A memorial service is scheduled for May 24.