An adept saxophonist and educator, Javon Jackson is a gifted improviser with a warm tone and style that straddles aggressive, acoustic post-bop and funky soul-jazz. Born in Carthage, Missouri in 1965, Jackson grew up in Denver in a musical family, with a mother who played piano and a father who played trumpet. He first began playing alto saxophone around age ten and switched to the tenor sax in his teens. After high school, he attended both the University of Denver and the Berklee College of Music in Boston before dropping out to join drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with whom he toured and recorded from 1988 to 1990.
From there, he moved to Palmetto and further expanded his musical palette with investigations into funk, soul, and R&B on 2003's Easy Does It, which featured guest appearances by Fred Wesley, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lenny White, and Mark Whitfield. He returned with the similarly inclined Have You Heard in 2005, followed by 2006's Now. Since leaving Palmetto, Jackson has continued to balance his love of standards-based acoustic jazz and more funky sounds, as evidenced by albums like 2007's Sugar Hill: Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, 2008's Once Upon a Melody, and 2012's Celebrating John Coltrane. Also in 2012, he paired with legendary jazz pianist and vocalist Les McCann for Lucky 13. In 2014, he delivered the live album Expression, recorded at New York's Smoke jazz and supper club. He then joined bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Drummond in the trio Three's Company for 2016's We'll Be Together Again.
Aside from performing and recording, Jackson is a devoted educator, having held teaching positions at Long Island University and the Conservatory of Music at the State University of New York at Purchase, where he also earned his master's degree. He also holds the position of professor and division director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. ~ Matt Collar