Michael Gregory Jackson: E_Lec_Tric_Git_Box

Guitarist and Geri Allen, Wadada Leo Smith and David Murray collaborator ranges from the lyrical to the frenetic in his first solo album

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Amazingly, this is the first solo album by Michael Gregory Jackson in his long career spanning half a century. All 11 pieces were recorded on electric guitar but crucially without deployment of overdubbing or looping. He also dispenses with effects pedals apart from some very light delay, reverb and tonal modulation.

The curious middle word of the title actually bears no relation to the British pejorative epithet and Jackson explains it thus: “My guitars, which I’ve called ‘git boxes’ since my teens, have always been my companions and a sanctuary to me, vehicles to help me through the angst of my younger life, and now.”

The opener, Karen, is a gentle and reflective ballad which sets the tone for the ensuing 45 minutes. If that were not mesmeric enough, its successor Theme-X is a truly gorgeous piece with a hook-like theme. Dedicated to the late composer and keyboardist Geri Allen with whom Jackson was associated in New Haven and New York in the 1970s. It was first heard on Jackson’s Clarity Quartet album Whenufindituwillknow (Golden Records, 2019).

Prelueoionti is a reworking of a track on his debut disc Clarity, Circle, Triangle, Square recorded live in 1976 and featuring Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake and David Murray and re-released on ESP-Disk label in 2010 and now downloadable on Bandcamp. It was originally executed on acoustic guitar, but here Jackson is heard on a 1959 Gibson SG. Throughout the album he alternates the SG with his trusty Fender Stratocaster.

Jackson typically punctuates the often-lyrical set melodies with florid, sometimes frenetic, extemporisation. But some of the tunes are more deliberately incisive such as the angular JcakJcak (dedicated to Ornette Coleman) with Jackson’s guitar in biting treble-tone mode. But everything here engages the listener, from the wistful Hymn For My People to the hypnotic The Rainy Days.

Discography
Karen (Sweet Angel); Theme-X (For Geri Allen); JcakJcak (For Ornette); Meditation In E (For Karen); Sweet Rain Blues; Prelueoionti (V2); Hymn For My People; Perseverance; The Rainy Days; Wish; The Science Of Beauty (For Arthur Livermore) (44.56)
Jackson (elg). Los Angeles, 22 February 2021 & 27 March 2021.
Golden Records MGJ/S02153