Which artist sang the song Ms. Jackson

British musician Joe JacksonIdiosyncratic pop character

Joe Jackson's first album was released in 1979, and 19 more studio albums have been added since then. Each of them is musically extraordinarily versatile in itself. And if you compare the individual albums stylistically with each other, you can see that Joe Jackson has reinvented himself again and again, has always been inspired anew. You can discover hard rock, jazz, classical elements, catchy pop sounds, weird experimental sounds. No trace of straightforwardness and monotony. His current album "Fast Forward", released in October 2015, also follows this pattern.

Interview with starting difficulties

The right opportunity to meet the versatile singer and songwriter Joe Jackson for a conversation about himself and his music arises during his European tour at the beginning of the year in Essen, in the Lichtburg, a listed building. The largest cinema in Germany is located behind its walls. And probably one of the most beautiful too. A theater with a huge stage, red curtains, comfortable red seats in the main room and on the galleries. Space for well over a thousand visitors. The right place for an extraordinary artist like Joe Jackson. The interview takes place in the bar area, right next to the hall. Heavy brown leather furniture. At this time, of course, everything is still deserted. After a few minutes of waiting, Joe Jackson arrives. A lanky guy. Tall, slim, pale. The thin, light hair combed back. Despite his 61 years of age, he has an exceptionally boyish face. The first question applies to the Lichtburg as the location of the concert.

"It's very nice!"

Joe Jackson is taciturn. Second attempt! Second question! How does he intend to open his concert in the evening? In advance it was heard that something special was planned. It should start with a few solo numbers. Just him, his voice and a keyboard. Only then do the rest of the musicians come on stage and into the game.

"I'm doing a few songs solo."

Even this answer was not exactly a torrent of words. And the musician's next sentences also give little hope of a long conversation.

"I'm really only thinking about my performance tonight. That's the only thing that matters to me at the moment."

That sounds like the final sentence of a very short interview. But Joe Jackson takes another breath and picks up on the first question about this wonderful concert hall.

"We always try to find the most beautiful places for our performances. And of course it's a lot better to play in such an old theater than in a box that was actually built for basketball or something like that."

Violin lessons instead of soccer

Joe Jackson has nothing to do with sports. You can hear that clearly. Even as a schoolboy he had shunned physical education. Joe was a frail child. Thin, awkward, asthmatic. His world was books. He'd rather hide in his room and read than play soccer with the other boys in the neighborhood. In addition, Jackson remembers his childhood that they would often rather have him than kicked the ball. Born in August 1954, the musician grew up in the English port city of Portsmouth. His real name is David Ian Jackson. He later made his nickname Joe his stage name. In 1979 he released his first long-playing record entitled "Look Sharp!" on the market. When he released his debut album "Look Sharp!" took up, Joe Jackson was 24 years old. He had written and arranged all the songs on it himself. He did not want to let this important design option be taken out of his hands. With him, the members of his regular backing band in the Eden Studio in West London were involved in the recording. Guitarist Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton. Joe Jackson himself sang, played the piano and harmonica. Jackson had learned his craft from scratch. At the age of eleven he signed up for violin lessons. And for a mundane reason.

"Actually, I didn't want to learn to play the violin, but it was the only way to avoid sports."

What began as an attempt to escape turned into a passion. Joe Jackson showed great musical talent. With a lot of diligence and ambition he practiced the compositions of the classical music masters on his violin and was also interested in music theory and music history.

"I thought that was really great. Having learned an instrument at such a young age not only gave me a good starting point for my music career. It still gives me a certain security today."

Joe Jackson comes from a humble background. Neither his mother nor his father played an instrument. They were unable to further the ambitions of their musically gifted son. You would probably have preferred it if he hadn't been interested in the art of bread, but in a secure future in a serious profession. Joe Jackson had not received any support from her side.

"Perhaps that was the decisive factor. Most of the musicians I have met over the years had been influenced musically by their parents. That was not the case with me, and perhaps it was even a good thing. For me, the music was as Teenager my own world that no one could interfere in. No one helped me, no one could tell me what to do or what not to do. Music was my way of rebellion against adults. I was able to develop my own personality through music. And the more my parents said your music is ridiculous, you can't make any money with it, the more I got the urge to continue with my music. I sometimes think that if my parents had been musicians, I would be anything but a Become a musician. "

Beethoven as a role model

At fourteen or fifteen, Joe Jackson had had enough of playing the violin. He switched to the piano because this instrument gave him more musical expression and the chance to get close to his idol.
"Beethoven was my hero back then. He was a heroic figure for me. Compared to him, Mozart was someone who had fallen from heaven. Beethoven, on the other hand, was a person made of flesh and blood. He had big problems, made mistakes, had to fight his way through and yet created a music that achieved great importance all over the world. "

When Joe Jackson looks back on his early years as a musician, he discovers some parallels to his great idol Beethoven.

"Just like him, I had to fight my way through quite a bit. I was spared becoming deaf, but there was hardly a problem I didn't have to bite through. But I was determined to go my way. If not one way, then the other. But otherwise I had no other really good alternative. "

In clubs in front of drunk guests

And so Joe Jackson was only left with the music that became his purpose in life and his future prospects. In addition to classical music, he discovered rock, pop and jazz as new playgrounds. To finance his passion, he romped through the clubs and bars of his hometown Portsmouth and played in front of drunken guests, who often threw beer bottles at him when they didn't like his music. At 18, Joe Jackson received a three-year scholarship to the prestigious London Royal Academy of Music. He studied composition, piano and percussion.
He was also involved in a theater group, took lessons from the famous British jazz musician John Dankworth and became a member of various pop bands. He also wrote his own songs on the side.

"My first songs were terrible. Because I didn't think I was a good singer, I let other people sing them. But that didn't work. My songs only got better when I decided to sing them myself, even though I did was not convinced of my voice. But in this way I began to really write the pieces from my point of view and not to use the usual pop clichés. "

The way to the professional camp

In 1978 Joe Jackson formed his own band, recorded demos of his pieces and got lucky. At the time, music producer David Kershenbaum was out and about in London looking for new talent and fresh sounds on behalf of a large US record company. He became aware of Joe Jackson and offered him a contract and became his producer.

With his debut "Look Sharp", Joe Jackson was far from having let off steam in terms of style. In the same year 1979 his second album "I'm the Man" was released. In 1980 "Beat Crazy" came on the market. But then Joe Jackson wanted to try something new and remembered his jazz teacher Johnny Dankworth. He had introduced him to the swing pieces of the 1940s. And now Joe Jackson wanted to dedicate himself to those and re-recorded some of the classics. He called the album Joe Jackson’s Jumpin ’Jive. For this project he put together an almost completely new band. Only his bassist Graham Maby was there again this time when Jackson recorded pieces by Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong or Louis Jordan in a studio in London. On the album cover, the then 27-year-old Joe Jackson wrote:

"When my father was my father's age, jazz was not socially acceptable music. It was played in brothels, not Carnegie Hall. The pieces on this album are jump, jive and swing classics from the 1940s. Us recorded it live and let us be inspired by Louis Jordan, the king of juke boxes, who influenced so many musicians but received only a few recognition. Like us, he did not make his music for the purists or the die-hard Jazz fans, but for those who just wanted to listen and have fun. "

New York as inspiration

After his excursion into the world of American swing greats, Joe Jackson also wanted to get to know the homeland of these musicians and went to New York in 1982 for the next production. There he was inspired to work on his album "Night and Day".

"I was looking for freedom and thrills in New York. I no longer felt either of these in London. In addition, the music that interested me most came from New York: jazz and that Latin sound. I was also fascinated by the New York New Wave scene. Yes In the 1970s I was a big fan of the Talking Heads and songs by them like "Television." Back then, I never dreamed that one day I would live in New York myself. "

Breathtaking pace

The album "Night and Day" sold over a million copies and became the greatest commercial success for the musician from England. It was a bow to this metropolis, its music scene and its musicians. Most of all, it paid homage to "Night and Day" composer Cole Porter, who wrote so many pieces for Broadway. But it wasn't just New York's world-famous musical mile that fascinated Joe Jackson. It was just everything he liked about this city. In the song "Steppin’ out "Jackson wanted to capture the breathtaking speed in the streets of this metropolis, which exerted a very special magic on the Englishman in New York, especially at night.

"At the time I lived in the East Village, in Manhattan, and I went to the famous CBGB music club a lot. I loved to see Latin bands. Sometimes I was the only fair-skinned visitor. I loved the atmosphere. I also went to jazz concerts a lot . That was an exciting time that I miss very much. "

In terms of musical creativity, the years in New York were arguably the most important in Joe Jackson's career. Immediately after the release of "Night and Day" he was commissioned to compose the music for the US movie "Mike’s Murder" with Debra Winger in the lead role. The American film business was a new challenge for Joe Jackson that he was only too happy to accept. It wasn't to be the only film he provided the music for either. In 1988 he was hired by the director Francis Ford Coppola as a composer for "Tucker - the Man and his Dream".

Broadway studio

Jackson also recorded the next regular album "Body and Soul" in New York. For the singing he went to a studio on Broadway, for working with the musicians he had chosen a special hall that was otherwise used for classical recordings. The sound atmosphere of the huge room can be clearly felt in the piece "The Verdict". "Body and Soul" was released in 1984 and Joe Jackson played the saxophone on it for the first time.

"I've only played the saxophone for a few years. I'm not very good at it either. I soon stopped because I said to myself," Hey! Stop! You do a little bit at once! "Besides, I think there are enough bad saxophone players in the world."

For the recordings of "Body and Soul" Joe Jackson had mostly brought musicians from the New York scene into the studio, only bassist Graham Maby was there again. Joe Jackson once again pulled out all the stops on this album. Each piece is its own little work of art. Sometimes it was Latino rhythms, sometimes it was jazz, sometimes funk, sometimes Motown soul or an instrumental piece of epic length in which Joe Jackson presented himself as a classically trained pianist. A variety of sounds and a range of styles that clearly demonstrate the wealth of ideas and musical genius of Joe Jackson. Versatility is his program.

"I don't think I've ever done something that corresponds to a pure style of music. I've always created mixes that I put together very intuitively. With the best of intentions, I can't imagine getting up in the morning with the firm determination, for example To make a pure jazz album. Are there any musicians who go about their work like that ?! Well, maybe yes, but I'm definitely not one of them. "

Music that cannot be pigeonholed

It is probably this excessive creativity that finally leads to the break with the record company, with which Joe Jackson has been under contract from the beginning of his career. The managers responsible for Jackson either cannot or do not want to market his music. She doesn't want to fit in any drawer. After the album "Blaze of Glory", which Jackson recorded again in New York in the winter of 1988 with a large number of musicians, the contract was terminated. But it doesn't take long before the busy artist comes under contract elsewhere. The album "Laughter and Lust" was released two years later and turned out to be unusually rock and pop. With "Night Music" followed in 1994 an album on which Joe Jackson indulged his passion for classically inspired music. Since then, the intervals between his individual albums have become longer and longer. Concerts become his focus. And when Jackson goes into the studio, something really special has to come out of it. For example in 2011 when Joe Jackson recorded "The Duke", an album dedicated to his jazz idol Duke Ellington.

"There's nothing this man didn't have. He combined genius and originality. He was of the utmost importance to music. He created his own new sound, at a time when most people didn't even know what jazz was." There were no rules for him. When he made his sound in the late 1920s it was something completely new. Even today his music still sounds fresh and interestingly foreign. I also admire him for making it to his Keeping the band going for fifty years. He never made any musical compromises, kept his dignity all these years. He had class. The way in which he repeatedly rearranged his old material is exemplary for me. "

Book author and blogger

In addition to music, Jackson has discovered other ways to develop creatively in the last few years. The beginning was made in 1999 with his book "A Cure For Gravity - A Musical Pilgramage", which in the German version is called "A remedy against gravity - Musical years of wandering".

"In the book I tell how I became a musician. That was a pretty crazy phase. Every day I discovered something new about life and about music. It was like a journey of discovery. From the first year of my life to mine My 24th birthday has happened so much more than in all the years since, which is why my book ends right there, when I released my first album That is why I do not feel the need to write a new book about it. I write about what moves me today in a blog on my website. Most of the time I write about my music and that's it for me Greatest to be on tour and give concerts. "

In his monthly column, Jackson has been writing very readable articles since December 2013. In it he comments on the current music scene. The latest April blog is about the need for record stores. The cosmopolitan Jackson also gives tips on where in the world you can still find good ones. He also says which artists he particularly likes and why. It really goes through all styles of music. The entry from February is also very pleasant. Then he mourns the death of David Bowie. Not exuberantly pathetic, but with just a few words of sincere appreciation and sadness.And that is precisely what makes the blog entry very moving.

New home Berlin

Joe Jackson has lived in Berlin for a number of years and, like his late colleague David Bowie in the 1970s, is looking for new inspiration there.

"I came to Berlin because I wanted to flee New York. Too much has changed there. However, I can't turn my back on New York forever. I have to go back there every now and then. Freedom, that I felt it in New York in the 1980s, and found it in Berlin too. "

In a Berlin studio, Joe Jackson also recorded some pieces from his current album "Fast Forward". In addition to some German actors, such as the guitarist Dirk Berger or the saxophonist Markus Ehrlich, the Los Angeles-born jazz bassist Greg Cohen and the New York-born jazz drummer and percussionist Earl Harvin were also part of the party, both of whom have been in for a while Living and working in Berlin for years. "Junkie Diva" is one of the new pieces that was recorded in Berlin. But only a quarter of the songs were written in the German capital. Joe Jackson recorded the rest in Amsterdam, New York and New Orleans.

"The individual cities weren't so important to me. It was more about the musicians I could work with there. Some of them had been on my wish list for a long time. I asked them and when they actually accepted, I thought me: "Shit - now it's getting serious. Now you have to go through with the project. That took a lot of planning work. But I think it was worth it. "

Music traveler

For the New York recordings, Jackson particularly highlights the drummer Brian Blade and the guitarist Bill Frisell and the violinist Regina Carter. All of them artists from the jazz field. He went to New Orleans to record songs with members of the jazz and blues fusion band Galactic. In Amsterdam he wanted to record songs with the big band drummer Stefan Kruger, a brass section and a string ensemble. The current album is the project of a passionate music traveler. But as much as Jackson likes working in the studio, the concert stage is his favorite place.

Biotop concert stage

"Playing my music live is what I like most. It's the most important thing for me. Only when I go to a concert do I feel the audience's reaction. Thousands of people listen to my CDs, but I don't know these people, I can can't see them, can't hear their applause. "

Joe Jackson needs the applause and the contact with the audience like air. He's tasting both of these on his own for the first time on his current tour. In the cone of the spotlight, sitting at his keyboards, Jackson opens his concerts with a few solo numbers. He acts as his own opening act, as he likes to call it, and gets the audience in the mood. Only after four or five songs is the right side of the stage lit up and the bassist, guitarist and drummer take action.

Mutation into a charming show master

Jackson is not a fan of overactive stage behavior. He prefers to sit behind his keyboards all evening, but is still the perfect entertainer. The otherwise reserved musician mutates into a charming show master. Humorous and quick-witted, he reacts to heckling, announces his songs with little anecdotes and spreads a good mood. He particularly enjoys surprising the audience with songs from other bands.

"What I enjoy most is when I can interpret a song in a completely new and different way. When choosing these pieces, it doesn't matter whether I personally like them or not. The main thing is that I can get something new out of them I'm totally on my head, but sometimes I want to shock the audience and play the pieces like the original. And that's exactly what I'm doing on the current tour. "