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Sat, 07.19.1902

Cliff Jackson, Slide Pianist born

Cliff Jackson

*Cliff Jackson was born on this date in 1902.  He was a Black jazz stride pianist.

From Culpeper, Virginia, after playing in Atlantic City, Jackson moved to New York City in 1923, where he played with Lionel Howard's Musical Aces in 1924 and recorded with Bob Fuller and Elmer Snowden. He led his own ensemble, the Krazy Kats, for recordings in 1930, and following their breakup he played extensively as a solo pianist in nightclubs in New York.   

During this time, he also accompanied singers such as Viola McCoy, Lena Wilson, Sara Martin, Martha Copeland, Helen Gross, and Clara Smith. He recorded with Sidney Bechet in 1940-41 and recorded as a soloist or leader in 1944-45, 1961, and 1969.  As house pianist at Cafe Society from 1943-51 he was a great success; he also toured with Eddie Condon in 1946. He also played with Garvin Bushell (1950), J.C. Higginbotham (1960), and Joe Thomas (1962).  

As can be heard on many of his 1944-1945 solo piano recordings, such as "Limehouse Blues", Jackson was one of the most powerful stride piano players.  His style was also marked by a contrapuntal-like bass work.  His many left-hand techniques are found explained in detail in Riccardo Scivales' method Jazz Piano: The Left Hand (Bedford Hills, New York: Ekay Music, 2005).  Jackson was married to the singer Maxine Sullivan from 1950 until his death from heart failure May 24, 1970 in New York City.  

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Image: William P. Gottlieb

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