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International Association of Jazz Record Collectors (IAJRC) - March, 2013

Ian Tiele

As the title states, this was the last concert performance by legenday Chicago reedman Franz Jackson, who was 95 years young at the time.  Jackson's professional life started at the tender age of 16 with the great Albert Ammons, playing on the back of a horse-drawn cart trying to solict customers for train excursions betwee Chicago and St. Louis.  He then went on to join the bands of Carroll Dickerson, Jimmy Noone, Walter Barnes, Roy Eldridge, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway and James P. Johnson and others. 

Some of the best jazz performers in Chicago and beyond made their way to Dowagiac, Michigan, where Jackson had relocated permanently, to pay tribute to him on his historic birthday.  Names familiar to Chicagoans included Art Holye, George Bean, Eric Schneider, Bob Cousins, Judi K, Yves Francois, Lisa Roti and Chris Carani.  The other musicians in attendance resided primarily in the Northern Indiana/Southwestern Michigan area and were considered Franz's "go to" musicians when he was playing in those locations. 

According to Jackson's daughter, Michelle the evening's itinerary was "Guided only by the program's list of tunes performed in various configurations of musicians and navigated flawlessly by jazz critic Neil Tesser who served as emcee, the evening morphed into a rollicking, boisterous night of music, memories and fun for both the performers and the audience!  Not to be outdone, at the age of 95, Dad blew virtually every note right alongside all his friends during the nearly 3-hour concert which featured such classics as When the Saints Go Marchin' In, St. Louis Blues, Take The A Train, Sweet Lorraine and Bourbon Street Parade.

The concert was made up of a number of small jam sessions, with Franz playing with different size configurations and musicians throughout the evening's performance.  There is some great material here, ranging from Dixieland to mainstream to bop.  In fact there is so much good music, it's hard to know where to start.  In this writer's mind, the standout tunes are Lester Leaps In (with Franz Jackson, Eric Schneider, Yves Francois, Tad Calcara and Ed Bagatini), Jitterbug Waltz (featuring Eric Schneider), When the Saints Go Marchin' In (with Franz Jackson, Eric Schneider, George Bean, Yves Francois, Tad Calcara, and Ed Bagatini).

This 2 CD set is nicely packaged with some excellent photos in the 12 page booklet which has liner notes by Neil Tesser and Michelle Jewell.  My only small criticism is that the vocals seem to be recorded slightly off mic.

Franz Jackson passed away on May 8, 2008, just a few months after this incredible concert had taken place.  Jackson's daughter, Michelle, notes that "Huff & Puff was the theme song my dad, Franz Jackson, used to close out his sets at intermissions and the end of the night.  'Yeah, we huffed.  And, we puffed.  We blew the whole night away.....,'  'Nuff said!"

More information about Franz and CD ordering information can be found at

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PDF of Actual Review