Chubby Jackson: A Ballad For Jai


A Ballad For Jai



Chubby Takes Over (V.I. Music 450703)

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Chubby Jackson (bass),

Bernie Glow, Marky Markowitz, Ernie Royal, Al Stewart, Nick Travis (trumpets), Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Dahl, Bill Elton, Tom Mitchell (trombones), Sam Marowitz, Sam Most, Al Cohn, Pete Mondello, Danny Bank (flutes, reeds), Marty Napoleon (piano), Don Lamond (drums)


Composed by Greig Stewart ‘Chubby’ Jackson. Arranged by Fred Carlin


Recorded: New York, July 25, 28 & August 1, 1958


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

When we asked Jaijai Jackson, daughter of the late Chubby Jackson (1918-2003), to help us decipher "A Ballad For Jai," she explained: "My mother, Joan, is Jai. My father wrote the song for her, and I was named after her. When they first met, they both had the same last name. So, with all those J's around, he took to calling her Jai. The spelling was a bit different, a character trait my father was known for. With his effervescent personality, he always stood out from the crowd."

Indeed. While lamentably few present-day jazz fans even know his name, during the mid-'40s Chubby Jackson was the human dynamo who powered Woody Herman's phenomenal First Herd to levels of excitement rarely matched before or since. We therefore thought it might be "a bit different" to review not a barnburner, but one of Chubby's ballad performances, recorded a decade after his glory days with Herman (shown on the album cover conferring a diploma upon his nearly 40-year-old graduate).

Jackson's composition "A Ballad For Jai" is a lovely and dramatic 4-minute tribute, with Fred Carlin's arrangement effectively offsetting full brass voicings against delicate touches by flutes and bass clarinet. There are no improvised solos, but the entire band contributes a stirring ensemble performance that will linger in your mind's ear long after the track has ended.

Carrying on the family tradition, Jaijai Jackson is now a highly visible web jazz presence whose latest project, The Jazz Network, is a treat-filled virtual community of musicians, fans and friends from around the globe. She quotes her dad as once observing philosophically: "When it comes to giggin', it's either Carnegie Hall or Carnegie Deli." We think the Jackson clan, with its blend of class and corned beef, represents the best of both worlds.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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  • 1 Peter La Barbera // Jun 09, 2008 at 12:36 AM
    I always wondered about the origins of this lovely piece showing a more quiet side of chubby.
  • 2 Ruth H. // Jun 09, 2008 at 04:44 PM
    Thanks for sending this nostalgic recording... having a father like Chubby makes you very blessed.
  • 3 Marissa // Jun 11, 2008 at 02:11 AM
    Thanks to Alan for singing about this unsung bass hero. Jaijai has honored Chubby's legacy and it's been great knowing her and learning more about her wonderful dad. "J" is one hip letter! :o)