Eric Jackson, a jazz host who impressed audiences in Boston for many years, died on Saturday morning. He was 72 years outdated.
Jackson got here from music. He was the son of jazz fanatic Sam Jackson. In a dialog with saxophonist Leonard Brown for GBH, Jackson recalled how his father, who he mentioned was the primary Black radio announcer in New England, launched him to the style at a younger age and welcomed achieved musicians of the period into their household dwelling.
Eric Jackson was born in Windfall, Rhode Island, in 1950. The household moved to Camden, New Jersey, however Jackson returned to New England in 1968 to attend Boston College. As a pupil, he hosted a number of applications on the school station, WBTU. Jackson continued on to host at WBUR, WHRB, WILD and WBCN. In 1977, he grew to become an everyday host on GBH with Essays in Black Music, a weekly chronology of African American musical historical past. He discovered a brand new function on the station in 1981 after filling in for an announcer who left to play bass on the street for a few weeks. When the host didn’t return as deliberate, GBH provided Jackson a everlasting spot. That convergence of occasions launched what grew to become a mainstay in Boston radio, Eric within the Night.
Over his many years in radio broadcasting, Jackson grew to become recognized broadly because the “Dean of Boston Jazz Radio.” That title connotes not solely his management and data of the topic, but in addition a guardianship of related departments. Jackson’s departments had been radio, jazz and folks, whether or not associated by the fraternity of terrestrial and digital broadcasters, or by participation as a citizen of the distinct American artwork.
“Eric’s hidden expertise as a broadcaster was his capacity to subtly train one thing,” CRB Basic Supervisor Anthony Rudel recalled in an inner memo on Sunday morning. “Working with him has been a pleasure, an thrilling expertise, and an training.”
Jackson launched himself to so many individuals by the use of his on-air presence. He entered your property, automobile or workplace together with his voice, and one felt as if one knew him.
Colleagues and pals sharing their reminiscences of Jackson mirrored on this capacity to attach and educate audiences.
Dr. William Banfield, a composer, professor emeritus and founding director of Black Music Tradition Research at Berklee School of Music, met Jackson whereas finding out on the New England Conservatory. He identified that Jackson’s relationship with jazz went past the notes on the information. For him, jazz was an extension of Black accomplishment, and he championed jazz as a strategy to additionally level out the creative and cultural triumphs of the folks.
“He wasn’t simply Eric on the air,” mentioned Dr. William Banfield. “He was Eric within the streets with jazz, and he was strolling and speaking and residing and planting the seeds.”
“Anyone that knew something about jazz music heard it from Eric,” mentioned Tessil Collins, who met Jackson via the faculty radio station community earlier than each got here to GBH. “Eric is without doubt one of the final of a breed of radio personalities. It is like a chapter being closed on a era of radio announcers who actually had been pioneers within the business, particularly within the Boston market. He is been a mainstay for over 50 years. It is an awesome loss, and GBH was very honored and really blessed to have had him on the air.”
CRB’s Ron Della Chiesa remembers Jackson from their days at WBCN.
“His exhibits had been like symphonies, beginning quietly and constructing via an arc for hours,” he recalled. “There was all the time a sound in his voice that was comforting, all the time there it doesn’t matter what was occurring on this planet.”
“It is like a chapter being closed on a era of radio announcers who actually had been pioneers within the business.”
Despite the fact that New England was his dwelling, Jackson’s affect and persona was not geographically confined.
“He was recognized means past Boston,” mentioned Sue Auclair, a advertising and leisure promoter who labored with Jackson. “I used to go to among the jazz conventions out of city in New York or D.C. or no matter and everyone knew Eric.”
Over the course of his many years on air, Jackson interviewed 1000’s of musicians, each established legends of the scene and native musicians who had been nonetheless constructing their presence.
Laszlo Gardony, a pal of Jackson’s, was one such musician. Born in Hungary, he moved to the US, on a scholarship from Berklee. Naturally, he bent his ear to Jackson.
“It was clear from the start that he had amazingly, masterfully curated units of fantastic jazz, which made us hear issues that we have not heard earlier than,” he remembered. “I additionally realized that he passionately promoted New England musicians and music.”
Jazz pianist Yoko Miwa additionally discovered a pal in Jackson. She will’t bear in mind when she first met him as a result of, like so many others, that first interplay got here by way of radio. She’s been a visitor on his present, and has performed a number of reside performances with GBH.
“He was one of many greatest supporters of my music, he even got here to my exhibits — he did this for everyone,” mentioned Miwa. “He was such a lovely particular person. He educated everyone. He was a treasure of the jazz scene.”
Others cannot think about what their music trajectory would have been like with out Jackson. In an e-mail to GBH Information, singer, saxophonist and songwriter Grace Kelly, whose first interview on Jackson’s present got here when she was simply 13 years outdated, mentioned up-and-coming artists “had been in a position to break into the Boston jazz scene due to his affect.”
Jackson’s devoted fanbase got here out to help him when GBH scaled again its jazz programming in 2012 amid an growth of NPR content material. After the station introduced it will transfer Jazz on WGBH with Eric Jackson from weekday nights to weekends, the jazz neighborhood — from musicians to listeners to fellow broadcasters — made their outrage recognized via a protest styled after a New Orleans-style funeral.
Six years later, GBH celebrated Jackson’s 40 years with the station, designating April 22-29, 2018 as “Eric Jackson Week” — full with brunches, reside broadcasts and a live performance sequence. Each the cities of Cambridge and Boston proclaimed “Eric Jackson Days,” April 23 for the previous, and April 25 for the latter. Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a Nationwide Quotation “acknowledging Jackson’s function in jazz tradition and his illustrious profession.“
The very best lecturers have such a robust ardour for his or her topic that their enthusiasm radiates to their pupils, who can not help however share within the delight. The dean taught his listeners a lot, and geared up them to share a musical gospel to these but unacquainted. He wished nice goals for his listeners. Could he now discover the identical.
A memorial service is being deliberate.