Official Biography (courtesy of East West PR)
The title of Eldredge Jackson's highly anticipated debut album on JEA Records says it all about the fresh and explosive energy he's bringing to the contemporary urban jazz landscape. The multi-talented saxophonist is doing it all for our Listening Pleasure, getting the rest of us hip to the deep musical love, sensual melodies and fiery grooves that have made him a vital musical force and regional sensation these past five years throughout both Texas and his adopted home state of Oklahoma.
A dynamic blend of the jazz, R&B and gospel influences that have inspired and defined the saxman's life and career, Listening Pleasure marks Jackson's long awaited emergence onto the national scene. Among the collection's 13 powerhouse tracks are soulful, passionate covers of two iconic R&B songs, Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," which are produced by Brian Jones and famed R&B/urban jazz producer Preston Glass; Glass' superstar resume includes Aretha Franklin, Kenny G, Kirk Whalum, George Benson and Earth, Wind & Fire. Beyond these crowd pleasers, the core of Listening Pleasure is the full-on collaboration between Jackson and his fellow Tulsan, superstar bassist Wayman Tisdale, on ten cuts that brings their personal and professional association full circle.
Jackson and Tisdale, who co-produced the album and co-wrote many of its tracks at the bassist's home studio The Bassmint, have been friends since middle school. One summer when Tisdale was between seasons in the NBA, he sat in with Jackson's band at the local Greenwood Jazz Festival. The two also share a common spiritual bond, as their fathers were both pastors of major congregations that ran in the same local church circles. They are also both members of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame; Tisdale was inducted in 2002, Jackson in 2005.
"Wayman was not my first choice to work with when I finally decided to write and record â€˜Listening Pleasure,' Jackson says, "he was my only choice. Our well established personal relationship and his immense talent and experience in the industry made him the best fit for me to introduce myself to jazz and R&B fans around the world. He knew my writing and playing style very well and we vibed perfectly together because of our mutual respect for one another and the freedom we gave each other creatively. He'd often give me raw tracks and ask me to live with them and see what kind of melody or hook I could come up with. Or I would bring a few tracks in and he would flesh them out. Then we'd fine tune the songs and start recording. The best part was his ability to bring out the best in me while getting me to express myself and emerge as an artist with new and inspiring musical ideas. It was a very comfortable and exciting creative experience."
Gearing up for the release of the disc's coolly funky, instantly infectious Tisdale penned first single "I Like That"-that's always the response it gets from the first few notes-Jackson is currently on the Soul Food Festival tour, bringing his trademark spirit and spontaneity to audiences as the sole instrumentalist on a bill with R&B legends Peabo Bryson and The Whispers.
These kinds of high profile gigs are par for the course for the New Orleans native, whose church upbringing in Tulsa-his dad was a pastor of a non denominational congregation--infuses a rich gospel influence into a soul-jazz horn style that is as much indebted to David Sanborn and Grover Washington, Jr. as Dexter Gordon. These past few years, he's opened for or shared festival stages with a wild cross-section of urban jazz and R&B greats: Najee, Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Osborne, Angela Winbush Stanley Jordan, Dru Hill, Shirley Murdock, SOS Band, Con-Funk-Shun, Toni Braxton and fellow Tulsans Charlie Wilson and The GAP Band.
Well known for his regular gigs at Tulsa hotspots Sax and Lola's, Jackson has headlined at many local casinos (Creek Nation, Cerhokee, Osage Million Dollar Elm, River Wind) and regional festivals. Besides drawing enthusiastic crowds at Mayfest, Tulsa's biggest outdoor festival, the heavy gigging saxophonist has exhilarated audiences at nearly every jazz event in Oklahoma: The Charlie Christian Jazz Festival, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame Jazz Festival, Million Dollar Elm Jazz Festival, Oklahoma City's Juneteenth, and Jenks Main Street Festival. Jackson has been a repeat nominee for "Artist of the Year" and "Best Jazz Act" in the Tulsa World's Spot Magazine awards. He's also branched out South into the Texas jazz scene with major gigs at The Red Cat Jazz CafÃ© in Houston and the Brooklyn Jazz CafÃ© in Dallas.
"It has been a lifelong dream to be able to share my music with others," Eldredge says. "I have really focused on developing my own sound. I describe my style as a sort of â€˜musical gumbo' - smooth and traditional jazz seasoned with a dash of gospel. One of the things that sets my band apart from others is the fact that we never do exactly the same show twice. That makes live dates exciting for both us and our audience. There's just this special energy happening at all times. I am a saxophonist and composer first, but I never lose sight of the importance of being a strong entertainer."
While the ten tracks on Listening Pleasure may be new to listening audiences nationwide, three of them are longtime, highly requested set pieces of his live show. Jackson charms the ladies every time with an extended improvisational version of the wistful and sensual ballad "Git Wit It" (a co-write with Tisdale) and invites a lucky couple to come onstage, sit at a romantic table for two and sip wine during the smoky and sensuous, strings-enhanced "Love You Eternally." The saxophonist calls the easy grooving, retro-soul flavored "Island Nights" his "super romantic, walking in the sand along the shore" tune, while the high energy title track lives up to its rapturous promise with an explosion of sax textures and irresistible thumping dance grooves.
The reflective, gently rolling "My Life," which was written by Jackson and prominently features Tisdale on bass and piccolo bass, is an inviting musical autobiography; a key element of his musical journey is also highlighted on the upbeat gospel jam "Sunday Morning @ 10am," which takes him back to his early days blowing sax in church. It's also a shout out to the moment his musical journey began. When he was about four years old, he saw Vernard Johnson, "The King of Gospel Saxophone," play at a musical convention in New Orleans. Jackson pointed to the stage and told his mother, "I want to be like that guy someday." The Tisdale composed laid back funk ballad "El Jack" was inspired by Jackson's stage name that fans love to call out when he's performing. He also brings an edgy rock electricity and searing emotional quality to "Voyage To Atlantis," the somewhat obscure Isley Brothers cover he has a blast shedding new light on. Wrapping the set are the Brian Jones and Preston Glass produced takes of "Hello" and "Rock With You," plus a cool slow-jam remix version of the latter.
"I really think the magic of making music is all about reaching out and having an impact on people's lives," Jackson says "The more people I am able to reach, the more fun it is. It's been a great blessing to touch so many fans on a regional basis, and I'm really excited now to take things further and share my music with the rest of the country and world. It's a unique opportunity when I can take a song I've written almost in secret, just sitting in a room by myself, and bring it to an audience of hundreds or thousands. I might imagine they'll respond a certain way, but when they actually do, it's a transcendent feeling and there's nothing in the world like it. I enjoy engaging them, getting them involved, lifting their spirits and then realizing we're sharing so much joy with each other."