Alexandra Jackson’s debut CD project pays homage to the American and Brazilian music she has loved since childhood.
“I grew up in a house filled with everything,” said Jackson.
She would wake up in the mornings to the sounds of Nancy Wilson and Take 6, study to Miles Davis and Luis Miguel and go to bed with the Gypsy Kings and Mel Tormé wafting through her home.
“Legacy & Alchemy,” which was nearly four years in the making, combines all of those influences. She sings in English and Portuguese.
“I used to hear ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ in the mall and over the YMCA speakers without knowing what kind of music it was,” she said. “Bossa nova was embedded around me without my knowing it. The guitar in the music was what drew it to me.”
Jackson will perform at noon on May 26 during the Atlanta Jazz Festival. It will be her third appearance at the festival, which is now in its 41st year.
She was especially intrigued by the black experience woven in the music on different continents .
““A commonality you can find within certain Brazilian and American musics comes from the West African slave trade,” she said. “ You hear it in the drums, the spirituals, the storytelling, the call and responses; but I was still very aware going into this project that it would be a sound that a lot of Americans weren’t used to. Unless they were jazz fans, because bossa nova has a strong place in jazz.”
Her studio album is “hard to categorize and put into certain boxes. I was just happy to do what I considered beautiful music and if we can do this together, awesome.”
It includes “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Amazon Farewell,” “Corcovado” and the wonderful “Brazilica.”
The Jackson name is familiar to many long-time Atlanta residents.
Her father is former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, with whom she bears a striking resemblence. Her mother is philanthropist and radio host Valerie Jackson.
There is also a talented musical pedigree. Her great aunt, Mattiwilda Dobbs, who broke down barriers in the world of opera and became the first black singer to perform at La Scala in Italy.
“Legacy & Alchemy,” includes collaborations with Al Jarreau, by the late Miles Davis, Ivan Lins, Dona Ivone Lara, Carlinhos Brown, Hubert Laws, Siedah Garrett and many others.
Several of the artists on the project, such as Jarreau, recently passed, which makes one reflective as you listen.
“We really want to pay homage to the genius, the brillance, the voices and the musicianship that they brought to the project,” she said.
Jackson will soon go on tour to promote the two-disc CD, which was recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Rio de Janerio and London.
What would her father, who died in 2003, think?
“My social justice work is through the arts,” she said. “The arts were very important to my father and his family. I know he would be very proud.”
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