Woke up this morning to the news of the passing of the great Eric Jackson, the ‘Dean of Boston Jazz Radio’.
I am devastated and heartbroken. A swirl of emotions and memories overcome me.
Eric was my mentor, my colleague, my friend.
We knew each other at WGBH in Boston in the 80’s, when he was the host of “Eric in the Evening”, a nightly 5-hour sojourn through the music of jazz and improvisational music, and I was a broadcast engineer.
I was a fan of Eric’s dulcet tones, his infectious laugh and his eclectic open-minded awesome mind-blowing programming.
Eric not only taught me how to be a music announcer, he taught me that “jazz” could include the likes of Aretha and Ray Charles and many other artists who were previously relegated to the “Soul/R&B” box.
He gave me permission to bring all of myself to my music programming.
And when he asked me to fill in for him on “Eric in the Evening” on numerous occasions, I was gobsmacked, honored and privileged.
Eric came to visit me in California in 2006. On the night of December 1st, I told him to meet me at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley because I wanted to turn him on to my favorite vocalist, Kenny Washington. Eric and his wife were late because they went to the North Berkeley BART station instead of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. The only reason he forgave me was the fact that Kenny was so extraordinary.
Eric had an open heart and open ears. He was a mensch.
He gave of himself, his music and his experience and talent freely.
His passion and exuberance were infectious.
We shared roots and stories that were based in our home state of New Jersey…Eric from Camden, me from Newark.
We had many boisterous fun conversations with our friend, Camden native and poet extraordinaire, Kate Rushin.
I will take Eric with me wherever I go.
And every time I program a set of music or segue between two unsuspecting artists, I will hear his voice and feel his inspiration and support.
And of course every time I hear the strains of Horace Silver’s composition “Peace” performed by pianist Tommy Flanagan, Eric’s theme song for over 40 years, I will think of him, shed a tear, smile a smile, and bow to his genius and kindness.
All praises due to Eric Jackson…one of a kind and unique!
Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and many listeners.
*Pix are from August 8, 2015, when Eric and I hung out at the San Jose Jazz Festival. KCSM was broadcasting live and Eric came to participate in a panel.