Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Bruce Jackson: News

A new project is on it's way! - December 4, 2015

It took me a while to get to this leg of the journey. But, I am here and excited to announce the forward momentum of my next recording.


Similar to my previous recording, “Don t Sleep On Your Dreams”, the title of my new project, an EP titled, “Just Left of Center” has notable significance. At first, I thought it would center on being left-handed (many of you know I play the exact opposite of most right-handed drummers).  But during the song selection and concept formation, I realized it had more to do with my musical signature.


There are no “standards” (e.g., “Tin Pan Alley”, Great American Song Book”) contained in this project. Even the selections helped to solidify the concept.


I’m joined on this project by some great musicians. Steve Varner is one of those bass players who make everything groove.  He brings a great spirit and a warm, vibrant sound to the music.


Dan Rufolo, who I met while studying at William Paterson University, is capable of bringing many styles and ideas to whatever he’s playing. His versatility and the clarity of his playing keep him busy working in New York and New Jersey.


In addition, I will be joined by two special guests on the recording.


Mike Mullan joins the group on saxophones for several selections. He’s got a big warm sound and an incredible creative vocabulary. I can’t wait for you to hear him.


An old friend, Scarlett Dorian helps me take a new look at a classic 70’s mainstay. She loved the idea for the track and I’m sure you will love her singing.


For more on these artists, go to:


I’ll be posting updates about the music and our December 8 recording session soon.

Instruments need for students at Paterson public school - March 13, 2014

Here is an update to a previous news item regarding the music students at Public School 12 in Paterson, New Jersey.

A couple of months ago, I passed this story along and said I would provide updates. The structure has been repaired, but the need to replace instruments is ongoing. Please help if you can. You can contact Sarah at Paterson Public School 12. Thanks.

Sarah Culp

7 hours ago


Dear Facebook friends,

 I need some help. As many of you know, I started a teaching job in December in Paterson, and just a few short weeks before I began, my music room burned completely. All the instruments I had access to were a complete loss. What I am asking is for those of you that played in band in 4th, 5th, 6th grade and bought an instrument, but quit and no longer play that instrument, to donate your instrument. I know there are countless flutes, clarinets, trumpets, and saxophones just rotting away in attics, basements, or under beds. I am asking you to help me if you own an instrument like this. Please share this with friends as well if you think they can help. donate your instrument to my school and put it in the hands of a child who I have had to turn away for instrumental lessons because I have nothing and they can not afford to buy or rent one. This is a great way to give back because you will know EXACTLY where your old instrument is going, and it's also a tax write off. Please, if you can help me out, it would mean the world to me and my students.

A new look for 2014 - January 14, 2014

Well now.

A couple things to share with you during the hours between "sleep 1" and "sleep 2". That's code for I'm up in the middle of the night thinking about this.


I'm doing a re-vamp on my media presence. In short, looking at what works, what doesn't. The web site as you see it will either be modified or re-built completely. However, this one won't go away until the new one is in place.


It's always my goal to work, so I will be looking at some old and new venues where you can come out and hear the band. The lineup is also going to have some changes that I'm excited about but... more on that later.


I think it's time for a new record. That's all I need for now. Concept, personnel, funding, release details, touring all come under the heading of, "I think it's time for a new record".


Finally, it's time to turn up the heat on some projects I've been developing. I'll keep you updated on the various states of development and progress on each of them.


That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by, even at this late hour.


Students redirected after fire at Paterson School 12 - November 24, 2013

A friend of mine, Sarah Culp was supposed to start teaching here shortly. I'll keep you posted on the recovery. 

Students redirected after fire at Paterson School 12 - See more at:

And at the half, the score is... - July 19, 2013

Still fun, still poppin'.

We're at the mid point of our run of Smokey Joe's Café at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. And I'll tell you, I really enjoy working with this group of folks. They make it fun every night and it's clearly visible to the audience.

So night after night, I sit down and perform this show. Eight shows a week. Two shows on Wednesday and Saturday. The other day, I thought about something my former teacher Nick Cerrato one told me about the discipline of playing a Broadway (be it on, off or other) show. He said, "It's always somebody's first time".

Now, that's a pretty wide net to cast, but it's true. It may be the first time someone has seen a Broadway show. It may be the first time someone has come to a particular theatre. It may be the first time someone has seen a particular ensemble. With that in mind, you have to go out and make magic.

Every time.

No half steppin' or autopilot allowed, thank you.

Last night I watched a woman sitting with her friends. From the opening of the show, she was mesmerized. Now, I don't come in at the beginning of the opening number. But when I started playing with the rest of the band (the drum intro is strong), you could see surprise and her face just lit up.

Her first time? Don't know. Was it an enjoyable experience for her? Do know.


Tonight, more of the same. Find somebody to light up.

Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Long Wharf Theatre - July 13, 2013

This summer brings a chance to make music (and probably some mischief) to the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. The shows run is from July 10 - 28. Here is an article about the performances and the performers.


As Ralph Kramden once said..."So you're startin' right in?" - January 3, 2013

I am, indeed. With a new list of things to do, places to go and people to meet.


For one thing, look for a lot more of me on various social media platforms. As I get more things happening (and of course, the hilarious stuff that happens on the road or at home from time to time) I'll let you know. I may even re-design this web site, like the list of things to do isn't long enough already.


I'm going to look to spend more time on the road performing this year. As always plans are being formulated, even if they are floating around in my head like a show globe. So, as plans develop and take shape, I'll keep you informed.


Finally, I've been thinking about my own 26 random acts of kindness for this year. Now, I figure, that's one every two weeks. I know, it coincides with payday for a lot of folks. But, it does not always have to be of a financial nature. Did I mention I'm a platelet donor? Think about what you would do every two weeks. How many people could you impact in a year?


So on my way to being more skilled as a musician, more prepared for this semester, well read, more energized, and an even better cook (there's still three grills set up outside), I gotta run. Have a great year, we'll talk soon.


My old Kentucky... hotel - November 9, 2012

This week, I'm off to Kentucky

I hope that the weather's not...

I hope the weather is nice.

I'm back to Paducah, Kentucky this weekend for a performance of the Thomas "Fats" Waller show, "Ain't Misbehavin". I really like to travel and play for different audiences. Although, last weekend, trying to get to Orlando, Florida was a little like a remix of "Bust a Move". Come closer classical music fans, I'll explain.

I was in the process of learning a show that I had not played before, the Louis Jordan musical, "Five Guys Named Moe". Then, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast. With no power for almost a week, it quickly became "Five Guys by Flashlight". I have to admit, the three flashlight setup I designed so that I could practice was impressive. It was kind of like being in an orchestra pit. Except the lights never come up and there's no heat. Be grateful. Some people are sitting in their houses looking at the stars.

Often, I get to a city the day of the performance. Last Friday, I was supposed to get on a 12:00 flight, with plenty of time to check into my hotel, go to the venue for a sound check, have dinner and do the performance. When your plane is delayed by almost four hours, all that goes on your holiday wish list. I missed check-in, the sound check and dinner. Which is why when you're on the road, you eat when you can and you sleep when you can. One $40 cab ride later, I was at the venue. Thirty minutes before the performance! It's a very good thing that I had only packed a carry on. Needless to say, when we got through the first number, it was like none of that ever happened. The thrill of victory, the agony of when can I eat?

There were two trays of dessert left from when the cast and musicians had dinner before the show, so when the performance was over, I not only had a musical high. I had a sugar high as well!

First, tighten up on the drums! - August 11, 2011

Thats right, I'm coming down to not the city of brotherly love, but the city of Archie Bell and the Drells. I'm in Houston, Texas on August 12th for a performance of "Ain't Misbehavin'" at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Squander your money on popcorn, the performance is free! Check the calendar link on the site for more info.

And we're off! Way off... - April 12, 2011

So not wanting to miss the bus leaving at 10:00, I get to the departure point at 9:30 pm. The folks driving the bus were not worried about missing the bus, they were already on it. So when they got there about 10:45 the rest of us boarded.

Here's what I've learned about large bus groups. It's like eating dinner with a large family. In the words of Bernie Mac, "I got mine. You better get yours". My miscue came when I decided to not only get on the back of the line of folks going in, but to put my bag in the compartment under the bus. That put me further off line and totally out of luck with getting seats. So I managed to compress myself into a seat in the back of the bus. The one dead center at the end of the isle. The one that, if the bus stops short, it's gonna look like my auditon tape for the Flying Wilendas.

11:00 and we're rolling. One of the folks leads the group in prayer. Makes sense. We pray for a safe trip. We pray that the Lord watches over our families and our homes while we are away. We pray that everything mechanical to get us there is sound. But in the few minutes that take us to the Gardern State Parkway, I find that we somehow make a turn, head back the other way, make a turn head back in our original direction.

And now I'm praying that this guy can find Route 95 south.

Praise the Lord, and pass the... navigation device.

Uniform changes - April 12, 2011

You know, in one respect, I'm a lot like the great bassist Bob Cranshaw. I can sleep anywhere, just about any time. So in that bus of sprawled out people, I manage to wedge myself in a single seat, leaning up against the outer wall of the bathroom. I feel bad, I've encroached on the back row where the stage manager was going to try and fit his 6 foot 5 inch structure across three seats. Now there are two.

So it's 2:30 in the morning, and this woman wakes me up trying to get into the bathroom. Not by the act itself, but by waking me up because the door won't open. The sweatshirt I'm wearing says "Harvard School of Public Health" not "Department of Public Works". I'm not the washroom attendant. One of the costume changes for the show is not a white jacket and a whisk broom. Now, I do feel for you, really I do. Wrote a poem about it at that very moment:

I know that gentle
Pitter patter
Is not new love
It's just your bladder

The second bus driver managed to get the door open for her. He, after all was awake. We could have avoided this whole write up with, "sorry to wake you, but..."

This ain't the soap box derby! Why are we coasting? - April 12, 2011

So, I'm in the back of the bus. By choice, thanks to those who have gone before us.


It's really hot back here and folks are headed towards the front. I figure we should be in Jacksonville soon, so I push the seat back and take yet another nap. What wakes me up is the quiet. There's no sound, but the bus is still rolling. Ever so slowly. As we pull onto the shoulder of Route 95, it's like the rumble strip on the side of the road is pulling the remaining energy out of the bus.

This can't be good, boys and girls.

So now there's no air on the bus, and folks begin to get out. I remark to one of my fellow passengers, "Now it's a church bus trip". Go ahead ask me. Ask me how one of the women in the choir got the bus started.

Seems that her regular job is driving for a big time bus company out of New York. So she actually made a phone call, opened up the back of the bus and got busy. Next thing we know, the bus is running and we are gingerly making our way into Florida.

That Gloria. Like the song says, G L O R I A.

Gather, rinse, repeat... - April 12, 2011

So we let key personnel off the bus (man was that guy suprised), and go to Jacksonville Landing. I did, but it's more than just me getting out of the bus. We descend onto the front desk at the hotel, where we have an hour and a half to shower, make phone calls home and flip around cable. Okay. Our of the hotel, to the Ritz. Staging, sound check, a bite to eat. The house is already open. I forgot to put on my belt and almost went on stage wearing white socks! Places? I've been more places today than I was all last year! But, the show must go on. So, go on over there and make it sound like something!

Groundhog Day - the diesel version - April 12, 2011

So it's been exactly 24 hours since we first got on the bus. And here we are, getting to head back up Route 95. We've only gotten out for a couple of rest stops. The longest one was the show. But it was fun and the audience really enjoyed themselves. Somehow, I don't feel as wiped out as I thought I would have. Eh, once the bus starts rolling, you'll have trouble staying awake. So as we descend back into the dark of night, I'm sure your next question is: Why did the drummer cross the road?

Why did the drummer cross the road? - Coda - April 12, 2011

To get biscuits made from scratch at a real barbeque joint, that's why! On our next to final stop on the way home, we stopped in a service area. Most of the usual stuff, gas, Burger King, souvenir shop, etc. But what caught everyone's attention was the Prince George Family BBQ restaurant across the road. Open for breakfast! It's like the first couple on the dance floor. It only took a couple of people to head over there before the majority of the company was in the place ordering breakfast. I guess it's best that we had to be back on the bus in 20 minutes. It looks like the kind of place you could spend some time and money in. I almost walked out with a ham! It was nice to open the day with good food, in a nice part of the country.


I've been on worse road gigs by bus. Ask Lee Sandrson or Peter Giron. But on a serious note, some thankful shout outs are in order.

Thank you to Ron Lucas and A. Curtis Farrow of Irving Srteet Rep for inviting me to share this adventure. It was a pleasure as always. Thanks to Hassan Wilkerson, stage manager extraordinaire. Somehow, it always looks effortless.

Last but not least, thank you to Carol Alexander and the staff of the Ritz Theatre for another wonderful visit. I hope to see you again soon. I wish I could have seen the look on John's face when he got the picture from Carolyn!

Return to Jacksonville! - April 8, 2011

No, it's not a recall. I'm performing this Saturday with the Irving Street Rep theatre company. A special presentation of "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God". And it's true. If man were played by like, Gary Coleman, God would be played by Larry Holmes. Tell me two things. Who do you think has the better jab, and how long do you think this fight is going to last?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing the show. It's the first time I've worked with a full gospel choir. It's really beautiful to hear. But wait, there's more...

This was described to me by one of the company members as "an old fashoned church group bus trip". As Archie Bell and the Drells advised, tighten up. We're going to be doing some riding. Ready?

The bus leaves New Jersey at 10 pm. We ride all night and get to Jacksonville around 2 pm. I keep doing the math on this, so let's hope they're right.


After a brief rest, there is a sound check at 4 pm. There will be some 25 people in the show, so with all the mikes to be tested, it won't be as my friend Frank Pagano would say, "hit it and quit it". There are hotel rooms and showers in the plan, shoe horned between rehersal, rest, eat, and hit the drum seat. The performance is at 7:30. We're scheduled to be back on the bus and back out of town at 10 pm. Just like we did the night before. Home Sunday afternoon. Where after a libation, the tv will watch me.

I know that most people I know (actually ALL of them) would not take on something as non-stop, jam-packed, shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee as this. But I have had some absolutely great times with this theatre group. And while this is the exception to what I usually do with them, it sparks of adventure. The kind of stuff we would do when we were younger. And maybe, just maybe, I need to get some of that back.

Above all else, it is a leap of faith. In them, in me, in God.

It's gonna be a hoot. I'll make sure of it. I'll keep you posted.

The September Concert: The Heart of Jazz - September 4, 2008

Thsi is my second year performing at the September Concert: The Heart of Jazz. I hope many of you can come out and share this special night wth the many musicians, restaruants and individuals who give their time so that we can come together for a few hours an reaffirm our connections through music. The Heart of Jazz presentation is coordinated by New York City based vocalist E.J. Decker, and it's quite a balancing act every year. But everyone gets to contribute, and the musicians never know with whom they will be playing. Many world famous players come and play beside folks who you may know on a local level. The greats, the near-greats. Never any ingrates. Last year, I got to hang with such jazz greats as Sheila Jordan, Cameron Brown, James Weidman and Gene Perla. Come to either venue (check the information on the calendar) and be part of a very special evening.

Thanks to all at the Brotherhood - July 21, 2008

I just wanted to take a minute to thank all the folks who came out to hear the trio at the Brotherhood Winery on July 19. And I know you're going to look, so here it is. Putnam County is in the house! Long Island is in the house! As always, thank you to Colleen Hughes and the folks at the winery for a great evening. I'll be returning on August 16, so if you enjoyed yourselves, by all means, come back. If you were unable to attend on July 19, you can make it up!

Bruce fratured on the Jazz Room - July 14, 2008

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joan Watson-Jones in Studio 952 for talk about the CD, being a leader and mutual friend we had in common, singer Joyce Bryant. The interview will be available on the internet starting today for two weeks.

Here are the details for accessing the interview:

The Jazz Room
Internet Jazz Radio
Log on to /jazz_room_page.html and click on the link to

We air every Monday at 7:00-7:30 PM and Sunday at 6:00-6:30PM Eastern Time on We are also available for On Demand listening. When you log on to the stations' website click on the tab "The Shows" in the menu at the top of the screen. The Jazz Room will be in the list of programs. Next click next to the Jazz Room either "This Week" or "Last Week" to listen to a program.


Last Week - Vocalist Judi Silvano. We talk about her current
CD, ”Womens Work” , upcoming projects, the record label she
started with her husband Joe Lovano, and improvisation and
personal style in jazz.
Starting July 14th - Meet Drummer Bruce Jackson. We chat about being a bandleader and the emotions that go into creating a CD . Also we talk of our mutual experiences with Singing Legend Joyce Bryant.
Starting July 21st - We’ll introduce to you Baritone Saxophonist Claire Daly.We have a spirited discussion about her CD “ Heaven Help Us All” and the eclectic content which includes Jazz and the Spoken Word, Afro- Cuban Rhythms and Straight Ahead Jazz . Also the theme of the CD which is a protest of our political times in 2008.
Starting July 28th - We talk with Pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs. We chat about his CD “Sack Full of Dreams” and his experiences working with jazz legends during his long musical career.

Last Week -Live performance by Saxophonist Cercie Miller
accompanied by Pianist Frank Wilkins. Cercie talks about what it's like to be a woman in the “man's” world of jazz saxophonists and her CD's.

You'll see photos of all the guests on at /jazz_room_page.html.
Please pass this eNewsletter on to someone you think might be interested.

The trio returns to the Btotherhood Winery - July 14, 2008

I'm pleased to announce a performance at the Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, NY on Saturday, July 19. A relaxed atmosphere with some wonderful wines and some great music. We'll be performing outdoors in the courtyard from 5:00 until 8:00 pm, so come and relax at Americas oldest winery. It's also one of my favorite venues to play.

Bounty of the Hudson - July 28-29 - July 13, 2007

Ah, the staves of life: good food, good wine, good music and good friends.

Join us for one of the premier wine tastings on the east coast. I'll be performing
with my trio. Some selections from the CD of course, and some things we just enjoy
playing. Come out and enjoy some of the best wine, food and music of the summer!

Located in Washingtonville, New York, on July 28 and 29, the Brotherhood Winery will
host an array of food and wines sure to delight the senses. Here is a description
from the Brotherhood Winery web site:

"SWT's Bounty of the Hudson at Brotherhood Winery! Local produce,
restaurants, music and of course, Wineries from all over the Hudson Valley come to
this event to showcase the fruits of their labor during this fun filled weekend.
Cooking demos, live music, great food and GREAT WINE!" for tickets and more information

January happenings - January 17, 2007

If the first month of this year is any indication of what's coming, what a year it's going to be. In addition to a wonderful radio interview on New Jersey station WCTC, I attended the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) conference in New York. It was an inspiration as well as a learning experience. In part, it was like shaking hands with your record collection. I met so many great people. Drummers Matt Wilson, Peter Erskine, Allen Carter and Billy Hart (who I had seen perform the night before with the "young lions" of the Paris Conservatory). Bassists Eddie Gomez, Bob Cranshaw, Riccardo Del Fra and Rufus Reid. Pianists Mulgrew Miller, Mark Levine, Mark Kramer, Dr. Billy Taylor and Hal Galper (who encouraged me to hang in there in trying to book my first tour). World renowned saxophone player and educator Dave Liebman.
And, managers Karen Kennedy, Gail Boyd and Miles Weinstein.

If that weren't enough, I was able to connect with my "peeps" from Paris! Sarah Morrow, John Betsch, Rhoda Scott and Jean-Noel Ginibre were all in town for the conference, and John had played earlier in the week at the Dewey Redman memorial. A quick hang at the hotel bar and everyone hooting and hollering. And, on the 12th, the trio made a return appearance at the J.J. Bitting Brewing Company to a very enthusiastic crowd.

But there was some sadness as well. Last weekend, we lost two musicians who have contributed much to the jazz landscape. Pianist Alice Coltrane and saxophonist Michael Brecker. They will be missed...

Anyway, there will be some administrative stuff going on, rehearsals and getting ready to perform for you again this year. I hope you'll keep coming out, and if you have not seen the trio yet, this is your year!

Bruce Jackson interviewed on radio station WCTC, Jan. 6 - January 4, 2007

For those of you in the central / south Jersey area, I will be a guest on WCTC''s "Loud and Clear" wih Maggie Glynn and Keith Rasmussen. We'll cover some of my background, discuss the CD, and talk about upcoming appearances. WCTC is located at 1450 on your AM dial.

For those of you who are not in the listening area, you can hear it over the internet. Go to: and click the "Listen Live" button.

Friends, Romans and Suprises - How Italy came to be - November 28, 2006

Here's a summary of how I got to play some great music and pull a fast one on one of my oldest friends at the same time.

Sarah Morrow, who I had met earlier during the year when she was here touring the states, contacted me. She wanted to know if I had planned to be in Paris in November. If so, she would offer me the opportunity to play with her group, The American All Stars In Paris during a trip to the 9th annual Rassegna Internazionale Jazz Festival, held at the Fonderie Teatrali Limone in Moncalieri, Italy. For a couple of reasons, it would be a suprise for my friend, Peter Giron, a noted player and educator in Paris. I agreed, and through the magic of the Internet, we hammered out all the details in about three hours. Her agent, Jean-Noel Ginibre mailed me the charts, and Peter's wife Nicole picked me up a the airport (my flight was four hours late; sorry, Nicole) and made room in their spacious Paris apartment. Peter was indeed suprised (although Jean-Noel gets the MVP award for throwing him off the trail at the last minute). It was great fun, and the story continues in subsequent headings.

Hotel in Moncalieri, part three - All soaped up, and nowhere to go! - November 18, 2006

Despite a potential roomate in part one and seeing the light in part two, not all of the day has been a series of mishaps. Okay, we did get lost trying to walk back to the hotel from lunch. But I got to spend time talking with everyone in the band. And lunch was great. Sarah, Ricky, Rhoda, Jean-Noel and Peter are a fun group of folks to hang with, and the music that evening really reflected it. But before we leave for the venue, yours truly has time for one more "yikes" moment.

We had dinner in the hotel, and it was just as good and as much fun as lunch. We talked about the set we were going to play, what time to be downstars for the van to the venue, etc. So I go up to my room to take a shower and get dressed. The shower is a small square, a bit larger than an old style phone booth. It takes a minute to get the hot water going, but I'm in, and moving. I have to be downstairs in 20 minutes. So I'm covered from head to foot in lather, and the soap slips out of my hand. I bend down to pick it up... and the water cuts off! For you musicians wondering what scale I'm using, I am now in panic mode!

I'm looking up at the shower head, knowing this can't be good. Given the whoops factor of the first room and the discovery of light, I'm trying to guess; is the water on a timer? I just got in here, I'm not doing the "extra rinse" cycle. Did all the water in the building go off? I'll tell you one thing. If I get out, and there is water running in the sink, this is going to be the birdbath for the ages!

Get ready. This is the part of the story where you, the audience gets to yell out, "dolt", "dimwit" and even "crackhead" (implying there is a physical split; no other pipes other than the bathoom are involved in this story) when I tell you the cause of the pause. Seems I leaned against the faucet on the way to pick up the soap. In my rush to get showered, I didn't feel a thing, and the pipes made no noise. I looked at the handle, took a deep breath, and pulled. When the water flowed, it was a bigger bonanza than having the lights come on!

(okay, yell now...)

A move was then busted, and I was able to be downstairs in plenty of time to join the band. And from there, it was one of those nights you hope for, but don't always get. And thats the risk and reward of playing jazz.
Next Page >>

RSS feed