MICHAEL GREGORY JACKSON「GIFTS」~album Talk~ 03
MICHAEL GREGORY JACKSON「GIFTS」1979
Theme For In Eyes
Sir Julius Of Woodstock
When I first got into exploring jazz as a teenager, I would always run into nothing but overpriced copies of stuff by the greats. To find something more attainable, I began looking through the "Misc __" sections and began finding gold. This album, "Gifts" was one of my first finds.
Released in 1979 by guitar player/composer Michael Gregory Jackson, "Gifts" is a nice piece of spiritual guitar jazz fusion. By that, I mean the essence of the melodies and smooth shifts in tone feel in tune with the spirit & every passage is dripping with this feeling.
Side A opens with "Unspoken Magic", which is a nice introduction to the vibe of the first half of the record. This leads seamlessly into shifting shapes (Dyami Emu, Vivid Violet) & culminates in "Theme For In Eyes". One of the elements that caught my attention on first play were the wordless vocals that flow throughout the tracks. Adding color & melody without any concrete imagery that lyrics generally place on the listener.
Side B is where my love for this album really caught fire. "Sir Julius Of Woodstock" is a fusion meditation with beautiful guitar work from MGJ. The passages scramble from atonal abstraction to chords that appear & disappear without warning. I remember these guitar phrases really resonating with me & inspiring me in my own guitar playing at the time. Writing this reminded me about the many psychedelic journeys this album accompanied me & my friends on in our younger years as well.
"Gifts" is the pinnacle of the record and is beautiful from the start. When I first heard this album, the guitar work on this song caught my ear because it reminded me of some of the post-rock bands I used to listen to. I think I'd go as far as saying this is one of my favorite jazz fusion compositions. Ahead of its time.
MGJ really shows off his style (as an instrumentalist, writer, arranger & producer) on this record. The other instrumentalists also add their potent touch. I'll put the credits down below. Until today, I had never heard a digital release of "Gifts" but found one on MGJ's Soundcloud. He is still releasing great music and if you dig any of the compositions on here, I urge you to dig deeper into his past and present catalog (which is pleasantly varied in style). I really enjoy his solo guitar work these days, but this album was my introduction to MGJ world and I am eternally grateful.
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Organ, Percussion, Written-By, Arranged By, Producer, Cover [Concept] – Michael Gregory Jackson
Acoustic Bass on "Unspoken Magic" – Fred Hopkins
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet – Marty Ehrlich
Drums, Percussion – Pheeroan Ak Laff
Electric Bass – Jerome Harris
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion – Baikida Carroll
Vibraphone on "Unspoken Magic" – Jay Hoggard
Art Direction, Cover [Concept] – Katrinka Blickle
Engineer [Assistant] – Mark Friedman
Engineer [Recording], Producer – David Baker
Lacquer Cut & Mastering By – Bob Ludwig
Michael Gregory Jackson info~