Lead guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., known for playing onstage with such icons as Michael Jackson, Dru Hill, Whitney Houston and Patti LaBelle, joins the group Jazz Funk Soul on their new album “Life and Times” (Shanachie Entertainment), scheduled for release Friday, Jan. 25.
The group consists of Grammy-nominated Everette Harp on saxophone and Grammy-winning Jeff Lorber on keyboard. Jackson fills in for the group’s late founder, Grammy-nominated guitarist Chuck Loeb, who died in 2017.
“The guys decided to continue the group and I was pleased,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s recording credits include Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous” albums, The Jacksons’ “Destiny” and “Triumph” and Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” He has released eight solo albums and received his Grammy Award nomination for his debut album, “I Came to Play.” He also played as part of the “Tonight Show” and “American Idol” bands.
“Technically, yes, this is the first time I’ve been in a group,” he said. “But I have worked with Everette with George Duke on the road and Jeff Lorber, I’ve worked for 30 years on his projects.”
The recording of “Life and Times” brought with it a slightly new working process, Jackson said.
“I [normally] do one guitar part. … Everette likes to do three parts and choose from them,” Jackson said about the experience. “That was different for me. Before, we’d write songs and bring them to the table. This time we did a lot of co-writing.”
Jackson said there was one song he had brought to the table, which they used but it was changed during the process.
Jazz Funk Soul formed in 2014 and released a self-titled album that year. That project was followed by “More Serious Business” in 2016.
Jackson teaches at his alma mata, the University of Southern California, where Grammy-nominated recording artist Patrice Rushen (“Forget Me Nots”) designed the program.
When he was a young musician, a mentor told him he needed to start playing guitar like Paul Jackson Jr., a not-so-subtle push to create his own style.
“So I’d write songs and play songs … as God directed and as you play and soul-seek you end up a conglomeration of what you heard,” he said. “It all comes together over the years and you will start to come out.”
That is certainly what he did, because his guitar playing has a signature sound that I can identify no matter what project he is on.
Advice this living legend gives to other artists and musicians is to “always improve.”
Eunice Moseley has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with her column, The Pulse of Entertainment.