Johannesburg, South Africa by permission of Monique Delatour

From Strata East to Kanye West, from straight-ahead jazz to soul/funk, Brian Jackson is an American legend. Listen to the more than a dozen albums he co-wrote and produced with longtime partner Gil Scott-Heron and you are bound to have many ‘where have i heard that before? ‘ moments. That’s because so many of his licks and riffs have been sampled – and continue to be sampled by – hip-hop aristocracy. Check his trademark Fender Rhodes sound providing the groove foundations for cuts like Kanye’s “Home Again” (from “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”) and Kendrick Lamar’s “Poe Mans Dreams” (from “Peace Go With You, Brother”) and you’ll understand that his musical vision was decades ahead of its time. Maybe that’s why when you hear him play it’s like something you’ve heard all your life.

After over three decades of creativity, Brian can be found building musical alliances with artists as diverse as M1 (Dead Prez), vocalist Gregory Porter, São Paulo’s Rodrigo Brandão and members of Hurtmold and Metá Metá, chanteuse Patrina Morris, young lion jazz violinist Scott Tixier (Kenny Barron, Stevie Wonder) legendary bassist Charnett Moffett and many others. He welcomes collaborations with younger artists and his work with New York phenoms drummer Ismail Lawal, trumpeter Josh Evans and saxophonists Stacey Dillard and Martin Kelly and bassist Diallo House proves that this policy yields big dividends.

Brian looks to both the present and the past for inspiration, bringing about the new in order to remain true to the ancient tradition of the griot – the African Troubador of Truth – that he honors. Aware of how important the accomplishments of those who came before him are to what he does, Brian’s mantra is: “This music isn’t really mine; it belongs to all of us. The minute we forget that it’s all over. It’s my job to pass on what I learn. That’s how I try to live the Tradition.”