Press for Rows and Rows
Jackson, despite a fair allegiance to free play, is an improviser whose historical grasp is abundantly clear. … Occasionally providing diffuse rustle and subtle clacks, Adasiewicz volleys between cascading vaults and the snappy, glassine shifts of a drummer’s telepathy, making Rows and Rows a duo delivering plenty of harmonic and rhythmic rewards.
—Clifford Allen, New York City Jazz Record
Despite its minimal instrumentation used throughout the album, the duo is never found lacking, proposing and elaborating on a wealth of fertile ideas throughout the course of nine relatively short compositions. Jackson & Adasiewicz create a miraculous space in which clever, melodic composition is enriched by bold and tasteful playing.
—John Morrison, JazzRightNow
In the rich musical cartography that powers today's scene in Chicago … Keefe Jackson and Jason Adasiewicz represent two major figures…[Rows and Rows] achieves a perfect balance of intent, mutual stimulation, the musical thought, the dialogue intensity. …Standing out immediately on first listen the energy that sustains the whole work: whether express or underground, able to breathe and give breath to the music. …Timeless.
—Giuseppe Segala, All About Jazz Italia
If Adasiewicz plays the stars in a constellation, Jackson seems to look up and play the imaginary lines connecting them.
—Tom Burris, Free Jazz Blog
Quite simply, Jackson and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz are deeply ensconced in the Chicago jazz scene, individually and collectively. But that doesn't mean they won't push and challenge each other, or the unsuspecting listener. Rather than rolling the tapes and just blowing, they work through seven compositions by Jackson and three by Adasiewicz which rely on freedom with bits of themes to hold it together.
—Mike Shanley, Shanley on Music
It’s evident from the first 10 seconds of Jackson’s “Caballo Ballo” that there’s an instinctual compatibility between them. …“Thunder Cooker” is a classic case of mutual respect and understanding-it’d be perfect for a modern noir film. Rows and Rows feels like a hearty handshake.
—Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes
…they invent stories infused with the sound of rare beauty, even going beyond the confines of the jazz genre and giving us an album of great stature and therefore highly recommended.
—Giuseppe Mavilla, Scrivere di Jazz
This session has it all going on--concept, motifs, beautifully thematic improvisations and an adventurous dynamic.
—Greg Applegate, Gapplegate Music Review
Jackson and Adasiewicz demonstrate the sort of congenial interplay that is rarely – if ever easily – heard among the density of larger configurations. Rows and Rows is a sterling example of their finely-tuned camaraderie and its applicability to the duet tradition.
—Troy Collins, Point of Departure
While some of their playing was laid-back and simple, the show also featured moments of pure shredding, demonstrating each musician’s admirable agility and technical prowess. Despite Jackson and Adasiewicz’s virtuosity, both musicians avoided showy displays, instead listening intently and reacting to each other in the moment.
—Izzy Yellen, DownBeat
Patience, empathy and a deep affinity radiate from every track, like two good friends getting together to shoot the breeze. Most pals don’t speak with such Shakespearean elegance.
—Peter Margasak, Downbeat
Adasiewicz swings his mallets with a rock drummer’s force, producing big rolling waves of sound; Jackson’s precise and varied attack gives focus to the surges. …The empathy goes both ways throughout this superb recording.
—Bill Meyer, The Wire
Press for A Round Goal
A Round Goal
Jackson's fourth release as a leader is a mature, one of a kind work that erases boundaries between the prewritten and the adlib and successfully blends together various genres. The provocative and invigorating music has all the makings of a classic.
Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz
Jackson has been a vital and distinctive player on the Chicago scene for quite a while. With A Round Goal, he has come into his own as an arranger, composer, and leader. Bill Meyer, Downbeat (four stars)
[on Overture] Jackson shows a deep understanding of the reeds, assigning different lines from each player to construct something fantastically detailed and sonically lush…[it displays] the rigor and quality that characterize the whole remarkable thing.
Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
…ensemble that brings together unfettered, squirrelly swing with a penchant for puckered, droning dissonance, round-robin refraction and delicate minimalism. It’s a testament to the leader’s writing that he can reign in the group’s size to feel like a trio or quartet…
Clifford Allen, New York City Jazz Record
...it has the potential to become an architectural masterpiece. With this band executing the blueprint plans, that's exactly what it becomes.
…the synchronicity these guys achieve in executing them is nothing short of terrifying.
Tom Burris, Free Jazz Blog (five stars)
A CD that stands as a vital document for understanding the evolution of contemporary jazz.
Giuseppe Mavilla, Scrivere di jazz
Best of 2013 Lists
Chicago Reader review of A Round Goal
The talent of Chicago's Keefe Jackson as an improvising reedist has long been beyond reproach. His work as sideman in groups led by Jason Stein, Pandelis Karayorgis, and Josh Berman, to say nothing of his key participation in the collective Fast Citizens has been astonishing—a consistent source of elegantly constructed, logically flowing improvisations that move easily between postbop and free jazz.
--Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
...the impeccable logic of his lines and the richness of his tone leave you wanting more...
--Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader
Jackson has an impressive grasp of the tenor's textural capabilities and exploits this knowledge to vary his attack; one minute ripe or overblown, guttural or throaty, then poppy or wailful.
--Michael Jackson, DownBeat
Jackson often gives the impression of existing in a parallel universe to whatever piece he's improvising over, full of ideas that jut out of the surroundings rather than comfortably fit in.
--Nate Dorward, Paris Transatlantic
...influences and ideas are rearranged and combined in a way to exude something not only contemporary, but beautifully futuristic.
--Clifford Allen, All About Jazz
…Jackson’s tenor saxophone improvisations balance ardor with control, spontaneity with thoughtfulness...
--Art Lange, Point of Departure
Jackson's marbled tone expresses a lovely lyricism no matter how brusque or serrated his lines get.
--Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
Keefe Jackson made an appealingly rough sound with his tenor saxophone. You could hear the sizzling in the throat of the instrument, the sharp edge of the long tones, the deep chasms and fine webs of the overblown sounds.
--Pirmin Bossart, Luzerner Zeitung
JazzTimes review of Ready Everyday
JazzTimes review of Ready Everyday:
"That the scene is as fluid conceptually as well is evidenced by the freewheeling, insistently swinging and wide-ranging sounds to be found here. The tight group (alto saxophonist Aram Shelton, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and bassist Anton Hatwich round out the lineup) is a meaty postbop ensemble on the opening "Ready Everyday," but a delicate little outfit in their anti-"Band Theme"; they soar in like a Hendrix-ian dive bomber in the opening of "Signs" and then tap dance with jittery insistence through "Saying Yes," effortlessly segueing from the delicately to the ominously dark ("Blackout," "Pax Urbanum")."