I knew of Franz more than I knew him. I was only face to face with the man once or twice. His music, however, served as my introduction to jazz. It opened a whole new world of musical expression and feeling to me and inspired me to become a better musician. I find now that I am using his music to inspire some of the at risk kids that I teach drums to.

I played a few songs from "A Night at Red Arrow" for a couple of my drum students. At first, they weren't too interested but once I got them to LISTEN and not just hear, they started to appreciate exactly what was being played. After a few songs they were pointing out phrases and feelings in the music that I didn't initially hear or feel. It turns out that the teacher can still learn from time to time. We went through a little of the Biography that Michelle sent to me and that brought home to my students the human factor behind the music. I think it made them appreciate the roots of what I teach them now. In the end I was to discover that there are two more Franz Fanz on the planet and a long time fan has a renewed appreciation for the music and the feeling that this genius put into it.

The heart and soul of this great musician, this great man will forever live on in his music. I am happy to have had the chance to meet him and to have my musical life changed for the better through the passion he expressed through his work.

John Przybylinski
All Content and Pictures Protected by Copyright
Copyright 2012 Franzjackson.com
Franz's family received so many cards, letters, calls and emails following his death from people who knew him, whose life he touched, who loved his music and loved him as a person.  We wanted to highlight them here as a testament to the kind of man Franz was and the indelible legacy he leaves behind for so many......
By Friends
and Fans
Franz Jackson

Lijit Search
Bookmark and Share
Back to
"Remembering Franz" Page
Back to Home Page
Join The Mailing List!
A video message from Franz's friend and colleague, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.  When Franz's health declined, his family invited friends and colleagues to send written, video and audio messaes to Franz to lift his spirits.  So many responded with wonderful recollections of Franz.  Marcus' video arrived the morning Franz passed and he never saw it.  But it was so moving and genuine, it was played at his memorial service and we wanted to share it with you here as well.
I am so sorry to hear of your Father's passing. Those that have heard Franz play or met him in person, will certainly memorialize his memory.  He had that kind of influence on people. Like ships passing in the night, people come and go; but once in awhile you meet one that stands out and makes an impression. This was his legacy, he impressed people wherever he went. He will be missed. I still listen to some of his recordings from the fifties.

Jim Ward
Franz was a gentleman of the first order -- the most polite man in all of Chicago. If he'd have run for mayor he would have won by a landslide.   Folks just loved the guy. The fact that he played his ass off just added to his charm. Had not heard him for the last decade, but I recall his playing in my mind's image and sound.

If that news is correct, then we have lost a legend in Franz' passing. I often heard him while I was working in the house band at Jazz Ltd. in the '60's His band played a near north location, and on our Thursday off nights Jean and I would often come in to hear him play. I frankly thought he'd be here forever, and at times it seemed like he had been, then he'd play or sing and then we'd question if he was really a teen in disguise -- such youthful fun in his style.

Jim Beebe and I would also often drop in to another joint on Rush Street when Franz was on and I thought that he must know every jazz song in the play book, including some I'd never heard of but just had to get the lead to.

I recalled one other time, about 1967-68, that several of us dropped in to catch Franz. I was along with Jazz Ltd. piano man Rozelle Claxton and drummer Barrett Deems. It was one one of the rare rehearsal days we had with Bill Rhinehardt - "da boss" at JL. Since it was on our Thursday off, we slipped over to this little room on Rush Street to hear Franz and company. Franz was  in especally good form that night and was playing an old "fish horn" (straight soprano sax). My thought was "move over, Sidney, that's the sound that you should hear when one of these horns are played." Only Bob Wilbur got that  un-brittle sound.  It remains a  memory of many about Franz. He will be missed by all who knew and heard him play.

Don Ingle
I and thousands of others will miss your Father's music, his wit, his dedication to the Chicago jazz scene, and most of all his warm personality.  Franz played magnificently at two of my daughters' weddings, and two of my birthday gatherings, never failing to completely enthrall and charm all who attended and spoke with him.

George Cross
Please accept our condolences on the passing of your Dad.  And WHAT a Dad!!  I think of him not only as a great musician but also a man of great love and compassion.  It seemed to seep from his every pore. 

Dowagiac is so very proud to have been a part of your entire family's life.  We all want to claim Franz as our own but, in fact, he belonged to the world and will forever. 

Al and Sandy Springsteen are two of the local folks who did not realize your Dad was such an important person.  They owned a car dealership here in Dowagiac -- across from the old Northside Food Store.   They often said Franz would come in for car maintenance or repairs and just calmly sat in the waiting room -- asking for no special treatment.  If that's not a true mark of a man, then I don't know what is!  If only today's "stars" were that grounded.  It is part of his legacy to you two.

Pat Tushla
Back to Top
Howard Dukes of the South Bend Tribune called me today. I told him that the amazing thing about the way Franz played was that he never coasted.  Every time I played with him, from around 1975 until last November, he constantly was inventing new musical lines, playing new phrases that were on the edge, pushing to be the best.

And in truth, at the gala concert, he was clearly the best musician in the auditorium!  For a 95-year old man to do a 3-hour concert, remaining on stage for every song...well, it was simply amazing. Remember, all the rest of us played on only half of the songs; he did it all!

Larry Dwyer
Director of Jazz Studies, University of Notre Dame
I want you to know how sorry all of us are at the Chicago History Museum about the passing of your father, one of the greats -- not only as a musician but as a human being.  My wife and I cherish our personal memories of him because we asked him to perform at our 50th birthday party, for our friends and family, eight years ago.   Chicago is filled with people with memories like that, and of course, so are so many all over the world.

We are overjoyed that he knew he was receiving this award, recognizing him as one of our own city's greats, somebody who joins the honor roll of those who have made history in our town.

Gary Johnson
President, Chicago History Museum
It is with mixed emotions we view your father's passing.  I knew your dad for nearly 50 years, both as a child and as an adult.  He was very special in a great number of ways and truly represents the passing of different values, in a far different context in time.  He lived a full life and for that, I am not saddened by his end.  At long last he is free of aches and pains, financial pressures, personal and political disappointments, and waiting for the inevitable. 

We on the other hand have lost a piece of the past, which is far greater than his music.  We have lost his experiences and wisdom, which is irreplaceable.  I never knew you dad well enough to know his philosophies or politics, but know my father did. My dad admired yours a great deal, but never shared the depth of your father’s thoughts and conversations with me.  Males of their era tended to be more private and withdrawn than today. 

What I do know is he endured decades of a life very different than his white counterparts.  I read and hear about "Jim Crow" and he lived it.  The same is true for World Wars, the Great Depression and many wonderful technological advances that were miracles to him, which we take for granted today.

Otto J. Kubik, Jr.
Son of The Owners of The Red Arrow Jazz Club
Back to Top
I am a drummer in Chicago and was lucky enough to play with Franz on several occasions over the years. I met Franz while working with Jim Beebe's group about 16 years ago and consequently played a few "Jazz at Noon" gigs with him. I was pretty young at the time and new to the style that they were playing. I got some tapes from Wayne Jones and was learning some tunes, but it was Franz that taught me how to keep time on the snare drum. He heard me roll at the end of a tune and said, "OK, you've got some hands, but ..." and then started talking to me about how to play the time with one hand and the press roll with the other. He also told me how, back in the day, before the sock cymbal was invented, he would sometimes pick up two cymbals (after he was done blowing) and clap them together along with the drummer. I always think of him when I play that snare drum beat.

A few years ago I played a concert with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble at the Art Institute for the "Roots of Chicago Jazz" series featuring the "Great Chicago Tenor Saxes". You were probably there and remember what a fantastic concert it was. Everyone played great and I was excited to play with Johnny Griffin for the first time, but it was your father who stole the show. He came out and played a few numbers with the rhythm section and sang his lyrics to "Struttin with Some BBQ". We were thrilled to be playing with a living legend and, along with the audience, were amazed at the energy of this 92 year old man! He seemed genuinely surprised by the standing ovation he received - as if he had just gone out to do his part of the show, business as usual, no big deal. But people were really moved and I think he was moved by their response.

I have been playing with Von Freeman for nineteen years now. I always remembered Franz's age because he is ten years older than Von. I remember them sitting next to one another and talking before the concert. Von was understandably upset last Tuesday when I passed along the message that Franz had passed. He said that Franz had been one of his idols growing up, "...you should have heard him play with Earl Hines' band. Man, he could really play." Von first heard Franz play around the time of the World's Fair in 1933.

Franz was blessed to live such a long life and to be able to play into his 90s. The rest of us were blessed to have heard him and especially lucky to have played with him.

Michael Raynor, Drummer
I'm so sorry for your loss. But yes, from what I know of your father, what an incredible person and what an incredible life.

His music was and is, of course, fantastic. But I am also in awe of how he continued to develop, to thrive on learning, taking on martial arts and Asian philosophy in his sunset years. When I first read about that, it just hit me: yes, this is what it means to be alive, thriving on life.

Gene Halton
Back to Top
Franz surely was one of the greatest!

For many years, I heard locals talk of this great sax player from Dowagiac!  I always dreamt of playing with him!  Then the years pass, & I am finally blessed on November 4, 2007.  What a joy it was to hear this legend still swinging...& I was on the same stage with Franz! What a great memory to cherish...always!

Ed Bagatini, Trombone
I cannot tell you what an honor and a privilege it was to perform with your father in the last years of his life.  I am happy for him, too, that he basically was able to play right up to the end - it's the way we all should go, doing what we love for people who love what we do.

Although we will miss him, his legacy is fixed in history as one of the great jazz performers of all time and that, we will have with us always.

Darrel Tidaback, Bass
I was truly shocked and saddened when I read your e-mail.  Mr.  Fukushima shares the same feeling.  Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for your loss.  Mr. Franz Jackson will be missed terribly.

Throughout the years, Mr. Fukushima has talked how feeling or souls could suddenly "resonate" between talented people, which he learned through the performance "Saxophone and the Sword".  Words are not necessary in such case.  It was my dream to experience this...

Midori KATO
I loved to listen to jazz--Franz Jackson style!  He knew how to make music speak to the heart.  It is hard to imagine Dowagiac without Franz there on the outskirts.

The world was a better place with Franz and his horn setting the beat.  He will be sorely missed.  I'm sure Heaven is swinging to that beat right now!

Barbara Groner
Back to Top
Hello To All of My Jazz Loving Friends:

I haven't the words to express my deepest feelings over the loss of this GREAT MAN AND MUSICIAN perhaps to use an old Bob Hope Tune I can then say;


Best Wishes Always!

Stuart Pearson
Dear friends of mine, anyone who knows me well knows the terrific amount of influence that this most wonderful musician (and just as much a wonderful person) has affected my life. If you receive this message, you are either a musical associate of mine, a musical associate of Franz that does not have access (that I know of) to 78l or red hot jazz, a fan of Franz (or music from that era) or a  friend of mine that knows how much Franz meant to me. I have posted this on 78L and red hot jazz to let the jazz world know, and, you, my friends, should know a little about Franz Jackson as well, and what an influence he has has had in so many people’s lives.

Franz Jackson has lived to the ripe age of 95. It was incredible to still be able to play with him on a couple of gigs in the last few months, and at least he was able to give everyone a taste of the real jazz first hand, even well into the new century, teaching people the music he loved so much so it would not be forgotten.

Yves Francois, Trumpet
I am speechless and heartbroken.

God needed one more angel.

I was blessed to have known him and shared his warmth and goodness, if only for a moment in time.

Deb Perrin
Writer, South Bend Tribune
I'm so saddened to hear of Franz's passing. He was truly one of the greatest musicians working within the Jazz art form. I feel blessed to have been able to share the stand with him, particularly when I was a fledgling Jazz performer. To have had his influence in those formative years has made an indelible mark in my makeup as a Jazz artist, and I'll be forever grateful. Franz played with a joy and spirit unmatched by anyone, and it affected everyone around him, on and off the bandstand. When he would call for a gig I would ask him which instrument he wanted me to bring (I play Tuba and Bass). He would say, " Leave the Tuba home, I like you swingin' on the Bass". So I would bring the Bass but, more often than not, every time I would start walking he would turn around and say "Leave it in two, Richard" (!!!).

He will be sorely missed by untold friends and fans.

Richard Armandi, Bass
Back to Top
I am a student of Notre Dame, and I wanted to send my condolences to the family and friends of Franz Jackson. I saw his last performance at Notre Dame last semester, and I was truly in awe at the way he performed! His capability at such an age was truly amazing, but what struck me the most was the passion and energy with which he performed! He truly loved every second of being on stage, and his sense of humor was incredible! I only met him and saw him play once, but he will truly be remembered!

Josh Von Schaumburg, Notre Dame Student
How fortunate for us that Franz choose to perform out of Chicago, but he raised his family in Dowagiac.  For the past four years Franz shared his music and his love of life with us at the Wood Fire.  We miss him a lot.

What joy that life can bring us such gems with no warning at all.  How could we know that by simply opening a restaurant we might become friends with a man who gave such gifts.  I will forever close my eyes, listen to his horn, and feel the joy and the love that flows so powerfully.  Franz caressed the notes and everyone in the room with the love for life that only 95 years can bring.

Eulogized as one of the great jazz musicians of the century, Franz did not play for celebrity.  He played for everyone who listened.  He gave up center stage to celebrate the music alongside each of the players on stage with him.

Larry Seurynck
Owner, The Wood Fire Italian Trattoria
Back to Top