Anthony Jackson (musician)

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Anthony Jackson
Anthony Jackson.jpg
Jackson in 2007
Background information
Birth nameAnthony Claiborne Jackson
Born (1952-06-23) June 23, 1952 (age 67)
New York City
GenresJazz, fusion, R&B, funk
Years active1970–present

Anthony Jackson, (June 23, 1952, New York, New York) is a Grammy-nominated American bassist and session musician based in New York City.[1]


Anthony Jackson has been a distinctive voice on the electric bass since entering the scene in New York City. He began playing the piano as a teen before switching to the guitar, and finally picking up the bass after being influenced by Motown bassist James Jamerson (see "Influences" below).

Jackson is a student of Jerry Fisher, Lawrence Lucie, and Pat Martino. He has performed live in more than 30 countries, and has recorded in more than 3000 sessions on more than 500 albums. His bass introduction for the O'Jays' "For the Love of Money" (on their classic album Ship Ahoy) earned him a co-writer's credit on the song alongside Gamble and Huff. [2]

In 2010, Jackson released his first leader album, INTERSPIRIT, with Greek bassist Yiorgos Fakanas from Abstract Logix.

Contrabass Guitar[edit]

Jackson, in 1978 touring the Netherlands with Al Di Meola

Jackson devised a six-string bass, tuned B-E-A-D-G-C (low to high), which he called the contrabass guitar.[citation needed]

Jackson said that the idea for adding more strings to the bass guitar came from his frustration with its limited range. When asked what he thought of criticism of the six-string bass, Jackson replied:

“Why is four [strings] the standard and not six? As the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family, the instrument should have had six strings from the beginning. The only reason it had four was because Leo Fender was thinking in application terms of an upright bass, but he built it along guitar lines because that was his training. The logical conception for the bass guitar encompasses six strings.”[3]

Jackson first approached various luthiers in 1974 about the construction of his idea, and Carl Thompson built the first six-string for Jackson in 1975. He later approached luthier Ken Smith of Ken Smith Basses to build him a six string bass before finally playing instruments made by New York-based bass makers, Fodera. Jackson has been playing the six string bass since 1981.[4]

Jackson initially played the guitar, and studied with renowned jazz guitarist Pat Martino. But as he put it,

“I continued playing standard as well as bass guitar until 1968, when I was forced to admit that my standard guitar playing should be quietly put to death.”[citation needed]

Style & influences[edit]

Jackson always plays sitting down.

He cites his main influences as James Jamerson, Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane, and French composer Olivier Messiaen. Jamerson’s influence on Jackson is perceptible to anyone familiar with both players, particularly on Jamerson tracks like “How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone?” by Diana Ross and The Supremes, where the use of arpeggiation and passing notes for simultaneous chordal and rhythmic expression are telltale.[citation needed]

Jackson was also influenced by Jack Casady. As Jackson said in a 1990 interview in Bass Player magazine.

“Casady, whom I'd first heard on Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album in late 1966, had a big, rich, metallic sound with a full bottom and a curious, guitaristic way of playing that I was immediately drawn to. When I saw him perform live, I was struck by his dignity and serious mien. It was Casady's sound that kept me exploring the expressive possibilities of using the pick. To this day, when I use one and a flanger, Casady's influence emerges and can be clearly detected by an aficionado.”[5]

Jackson’s other major influence is Olivier Messiaen, whose music changed his life “irrevocably and forever”.[citation needed] It was Messiaen’s organ suite “La Nativité du Seigneur” that so impressed Jackson that he remarked:

“I hear the tritone as the central interval on which to build harmonies and melodies, as opposed to the major or minor third… The tritone interval has been extremely important to me from the first day I heard Messiaen playing his own music on organ.”[citation needed]


As co-leader[edit]

Artists Album, label, year
Anthony Jackson • Yiorgos Fakanas Interspirit (Abstract Logix, 2010)
Michel Petrucciani, Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson Trio in Tokyo (Dreyfus, 1998)
Steve Smith, Dave Liebman, Aydin Esen, Anthony Jackson Flashpoint (Shrapnel, 2005)

As sideman[edit]

Artist Album, song, label, year
Fahir Atakoğlu If (2005)
Anita Baker Rhythm of Love (Elektra, 1994)
Bee Gees Still Waters (1997)
Gato Barbieri Qué Pasa (Columbia, 1997)
Alex Bugnon This Time Around (1995), As Promised (2000)
Michel Camilo Why Not?, Rendezvous, One More Once, Thru My Eyes, Triangulo
Dennis Chambers Getting Even (1992)
Chick Corea The Leprechaun
Billy Cobham
Hank Crawford Hank Crawford's Back (Kudu, 1976)
Al Di Meola Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force – Live, Tirami Su, Kiss My Axe, Flesh on Flesh
Eliane Elias A Long Story (1991)
Aydin Esen Anadolu (1992)
Donald Fagen The Nightfly: "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)", "Ruby Baby"
Snétberger Ferenc Budapest Kongresszusi Központ 1992
Roberta Flack Feel Like Makin' Love
Carlos Garnett Journey to Enlightenment (Muse, 1974) Let This Melody Ring On (Muse, 1975)
Astrud Gilberto & Shigeru Mukai So & So: Mukai meets Gilberto (1982)
Dizzy Gillespie Rhythmstick (1990)
Urbie Green The Fox (CTI, 1976)
Dave Grusin One of a kind (1977), Dave Grusin & the NY-LA Dream Band (1982)
Wlodek Gulgowski Soundcheck (Polydor, 1976)
Masaru Imada Seaside (1982)
Chaka Khan Naughty, What Cha' Gonna Do for Me, Chaka
Steve Khan Eyewitness (1981), Crossings (1984), Public Access (1990), Casa Loco (1991) Headline (1992), The Suitcase: Live in Koln '94 (2008), Parting Shot (2011)
Wayne Krantz Your Basic Live '06, Signals
Bireli Lagrene My Favorite Django
Madonna Madonna
Tania Maria Europa (1997)
Pat Metheny Secret Story (1992)
Barry Miles Sky Train (1977)
David "Fathead" Newman Mr. Fathead (Warner Bros., 1976)
The O'Jays Ship Ahoy (Philadelphia International Records, 1973, with "For the Love of Money")
Michel Petrucciani Playground, Both Worlds
Esther Phillips Capricorn Princess (1976)
Simon Phillips Force majeure (1992), Another Lifetime (1997)
Buddy Rich Transition (1974), Very Live at Buddy's Place (1974), Very Live at Buddy's Place: Complete Edition (2016), Tuff Dude (1989)
Lee Ritenour Gentle Thoughts (JVC, 1977), The Captain's Journey (1978), On The Line (1983), Color Rit (1989), World of Brazil (2005), Overtime (2005)
Alejandro Sanz No Es lo Mismo (2003)
Arturo Sandoval Flight to Freedom (1991)
Lalo Schifrin Black Widow (CTI, 1976), Rollercoaster (Soundtrack)
John Scofield Who's Who? (1979)
Simon & Garfunkel The Concert in Central Park
Paul Simon One-Trick Pony, Hearts and Bones
Steve Smith Buddy's Buddies (Shrapnel, 2002)
Andy Snitzer Ties that bind (1994), In the eye of the storm (1996)
Steely Dan Gaucho: "My Rival", "Glamour Profession"
Jeremy Steig Temple of Birth (Columbia, 1975)
Mike Stern Odds or Evens, Who Let the Cats Out?
Sadao Watanabe How's Everything (1980), Autumn Blow (1990)
Dave Weckl Master Plan, Hard Wired
Hiromi Uehara Another Mind, Brain, Voice, Move, Alive, Spark
Michał Urbaniak Fusion III (Columbia, 1975), Ecstasy (Marlin, 1978): "A Day in the Park", "Creation"
Akiko Yano Twilight – The "Live" Best
Various Artists & Jonathan Larson Rent Original Broadway Cast Recording (DreamWorks, 1996)
Various Artists The Wiz (soundtrack) (MCA/Motown, 1977)
Billy Paul 360 Degrees of Billy Paul (Philadelphia International Records, 1972)
MFSB MFSB (Philadelphia International Records, 1973)
Peter Allen Continental American (A&M Records, 1974)


  1. ^ Hogan, Ed (1952-06-23). "Anthony Jackson". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  2. ^ The liner note from album "INTERSPIRIT" 2010, Abstract Logix, LBLX020
  3. ^ Jisi, Chris (2003). Brave New Bass. Backbeat Books. p. 19. ISBN 0-87930-763-3.
  4. ^ "Anthony Jackson - Contrabass Conception" (PDF).
  5. ^ Bass Player, The Spring 1990, Premiere Issue.

External links[edit]