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Ronald Shannon Jackson

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Drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, and his Decoding Society of the 1980s, learned from the example of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time and were a logical extension of the group. They featured colorful and noisy ensembles; were not afraid of the influence of rock; and their rhythms were funky, loud, and unpredictable. Jackson played professionally in Texas with James Clay when he was 15. He moved to New York in 1966, where he worked with Byard Lancaster, Charles Mingus, Betty Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Dorham, and most significantly Albert Ayler (1966-1967), among others. He took time off of the scene and then joined Ornette Coleman's Prime Time (1975-1979). Jackson also worked with Cecil Taylor (1978-1979) and James "Blood" Ulmer (1979-1980). The Decoding Society (formed in 1979), through the years, featured many talented and advanced improvisers, with the best-known ones being Vernon Reid, Zane Massey, Billy Bang, and Byard Lancaster. Jackson also played with the explosive group Last Exit (starting in 1986), and in the early '90s with Power Tools. Ronald Shannon Jackson's music is not for easy-to-offend ears. The drummer died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas on October 19, 2013 after battling leukemia; he was 73 years old. ~ Scott Yanow

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January 12, 1940 in Fort Worth, TX

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s


Influenced by This Artist