The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2015
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Article Details

Herman Jackson


Throughout a career that has taken him from classical studies to jazz clubs, funk bands to smooth jazz sessions, concert tours to television shows, Herman Jackson has proven himself a versatile and adaptable musician of the highest order. As a pianist, producer, arranger, musical director and conductor, he is among the busiest players in the business.

Jackson is currently Keyboardist/Arranger on the hit Fox show American Idol as well as America's Got Talent, and Don't Forget The Lyrics. Jackson's astounding resume includes concerts backing Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Babyface, Frankie Beverly, Jessica Simpson and Dave Koz; television performances with Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder,Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston, Be Be Winans, James Ingram, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Heather Headley, Gladys Knight, and He is Keyboardist for VH1's Diva's Live. Jackson was the Music Director/Conductor for Pope Benedict XVI during his historic mass at Yankee Stadium, April 21st, 2008.

His compositions have been recorded by the ubiquitous Norman Connors and Norman Brown, and he has played on CD's ranging from soul legends The Temptations, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, smooth jazz stars, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown and George Benson, To West Coast rap icons Too $hort and Tone Loc, and Record of the year Grammy Winner Outkast. he has conducted the San Francisco, Houston, El Paso and Cleveland Symphonies.

He has arranged, conducted, directed two ABC specials for Jessica Simpson. And he closed out 2009 as Musical Director and Orchestra Conductor for the annual Colors of Christmas extravaganza, featuring Jennifer Holliday, Sheena Easton, Peabo Bryson and Maxi Priest. Whatever the musical situation calls for, Herman Jackson is up for the challenge.

Jackson was born in the famed musical hub, Detroit, Michigan. Influenced by the classical and church music he heard his mother and grandmother playing, Herman started classical piano lessons at the age of 8. Soon, other influences from the deep musical traditions of Detroit invaded his senses. Through his father, Herman discovered jazz on WJZZ, soon distinguishing favorites such as Nat Cole, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock. Then in 1976, Stevie Wonder's seminal Songs in the Key of Life double album was released, changing 11 year-old Herman's world in a major way.

The year Herman graduated high school (1982) was the year that Detroit's Wayne State University started a jazz program. He was the first scholarship Jazz Studies major there. Herman also taught piano at a community center and joined a band, Motor City. After two years at Wayne State, Herman moved to Los Angeles, California, primarily to see if Motor City could make it on the West Coast. But since his parents wouldn't allow it unless he stayed in school, he continued his education at UCLA., later transferring to Cal State Northridge.

With each year bringing new experiences, new collaborators and increasingly more savory challenges, Herman Jackson has arrived as one truly ubiquitous renaissance man of music.



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