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Ron Jackson | Akustik Inventyours

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Akustik Inventyours

by Ron Jackson

An acoustic guitar lovers dream! The urban jazz guitar master’s latest instrumental release features all original compositions and 1 arrangement presented in a program of beguiling solo and self-accompanied duets on six-string steel and classical guitars.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Bucket Blues
2:10 $0.99
2. Your Eyes
6:17 $0.99
3. Excerpt of Tina Number III
5:04 $0.99
4. Park Slope
5:51 $0.99
5. Train to Groningen
5:30 $0.99
6. Australian Love Affair
6:00 $0.99
7. Old Dusty Road
2:37 $0.99
8. Too Late
4:51 $0.99
9. Calypso Party
5:39 $0.99
10. Londonderry Air
3:27 $0.99
11. In My Dreams
6:23 $0.99
12. Barrington Tops
7:43 $0.99
13. Going Bush
4:31 $0.99
14. Ernestina
6:48 $0.99
15. Jamaican Sunset
5:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Ron Jackson: Akustik InventYours

4 and 1/2 Stars

Guitarist Ron Jackson, known as a composer, performer, and educator in a wide range of contexts in his present headquarters of New York City, has enjoyed an adventurous life. Born in the Philippines to a military family, he moved many times as a child, music being his constant companion. Though now known for his work as a jazz aficionado, Jackson always had a soft spot for the acoustic guitar. Moved by the unplugged adventures of Steve Howe, Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, and the Paco de Lucia/Al Di Meola/John McLaughlin trio, he continued to fan a pilot light of inspiration until the stoking of this album. "This is something I'd been wanting to do since I was a kid," Jackson tells me. "It's the kind of music I always wanted to play. Even when I was studying at Berklee, I was mainly into jazz composition and arranging. Composition was my first love."

For this debut solo album, two years and hundreds of hours in the making, Jackson compiled a robust set of self-penned tunes. "I decided to make it all original," he says, "because I wanted to get away from people associating me with jazz standards." To that end, Jackson reached deep into his past as a way of defining his future. It's not only the technique but the variety of temperaments that makes it all so compelling.

Like the metropolis he calls his own, the guitarist embodies not only a broad stylistic range, but also a cultural multiplicity that can only come from a well-traveled heart. It's the same kind of documentary spirit that breathes through the minor-inflected "Park Slope" and "Train to Groningen." Some such pieces, like "Old Dusty Road" and "Bucket Blues," feel close to home, while others more distant from the here and now. In these, too, Jackson employs skillful multi-tracking to maximize his improvisational reach.

More than times and places, however, it's people who seem to make the most vivid appearances, as in the tender "Ernestina" (the album's oldest, dating from the guitarist's twenties) and the songful "Australian Love Affair." Even more lucid are the buoyant affirmations of "Tina Number III," the first two parts of which are destined for a future record. Jackson draws on a spectrum of atmospheres—a flamenco-style touch here, a whiff of nostalgia there (as in "Londonderry Air," his arrangement of the ever-popular "Danny Boy")—but always with genuine yearning. His meticulousness pays its biggest dividends in the ballads, in particular "Your Eyes," which sounds like a lost tune of Ralph Towner, another influence. Jackson's carefulness also enriches the album's mood pieces, which range from forlorn ("Too Late") to whimsical ("Going Bush") to comforting ("Jamaican Sunset").

All of which entails a more-than-convincing package of Jackson's melodic acumen. This album is one from which life overflows with optimism and resilience. Says Jackson, "It's the one CD where I produced everything myself, so I'm proudest of it. I wanted to put out something I had complete control over, against what people thought I should be releasing, and this is it." Such thinking is true to the album's titular wordplay, which entreats us to be ourselves, and welcomes anyone with ears to hear.

Track Listing: Bucket Blues; Your Eyes; Excerpt of Tina Number III; Park Slope; Train to Groningen; Australian Love Affair; Old Dusty Road; Too Late; Calypso Party; Londonderry Air; In My Dreams; Barrington Tops; Going Bush; Ernestina; Jamaican Sunset.

Personnel: Ron Jackson: guitars.

Published: May 3, 2016

Smooth doesn’t necessarily mean edgeless. Take the latest album from Ron Jackson, the versatile New York City-based jazz guitarist who’s also a contributor of lessons to Acoustic Guitar. Until now, Jackson has been known primarily as an electric guitarist whose smooth grooves on his Gibson L-5 archtop have accompanied jazz greats ranging from pianist Randy Weston to the late organist Jimmy McGriff. The title of Jackson’s new Akustik InventYours—his sixth release since 1991’s A Guitar Thing—may be a rather clunky way of suggesting that this acoustic foray is equal parts “invention” and “adventure,” but the music inside is anything but clunky.

On these 15 songs, Jackson runs through a panoply of acoustic styles, from the Lightning Hopkins-inspired “Bucket Blues” that opens the set, to the lighthearted hat tip to Chet Atkins in “Old Dusty Road.”
Jackson explores Spanish guitar in “Excerpt of Tina Number III,” and Afro-Caribbean melodies in “Calypso Party,” “Going Bush,” and “Jamaican Sunset.” The only non-original track on the album is his spare take on the Irish standard “Londonderry Air,” better known with lyrics as “Danny Boy.”

Jackson plays a custom-made British Fylde steel-string on most tracks, including two standouts—the moody and sometimes dissonant “Park Slope”
and the wistfully nostalgic “Your Eyes,” whose gorgeous counter melodies are dedicated to his daughter Lucia. For the lovely tones he brings to “Tina Number III” and “Australian Love Affair,” he plays an Aria AC-80 nylon-string guitar, and for the gritty fingerstyle blues and chiming on “Bucket Blues,” he uses a trusty Martin HD-28.

For a solo instrumental jaunt through acoustic music from around the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better starting point than Akustik InventYours.

Lindsay Parks, Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Akustik InventYours is Ron Jackson's welcome and surprising new recording. Self-described as an "urban jazz guitarist" and best known for wielding his electric ax in straightahead, funky r&b/soul/bop and pop settings, Ron now presents a program of beguiling solo and self-accompanied duets on six-string steel and classical (nylon-string) instruments. With advanced finger-picking skills and broadly-based musical sensibility, he ushers listeners through 14 original compositions and one unique arrangement giving personal twists to world-spanning musical traditions. The duets, of course, are overdubbed, but otherwise the music is captured as it was created, both sound and substance totally clear and cohesive.

"People put you in a category, so nobody knows me for this, but I started playing acoustic guitar when I was 11," says this veteran jazzman, "and I've been playing finger-style since I was in college. I've always liked Chet Atkins" – the Nashville guitar star and producer – "and Andres Segovia and Jimmy Page when he played acoustic with Led Zeppelin. I've wanted to do an acoustic album for 20 years. Here it is!"

Here indeed: Songs referencing country blues, roots Americana, reggae, calypso, Latin, Brazilian and Africa tropes, enriched by Ron's direct, warm sensibility. From the bright harmonic sweeps that open the 12-bar "Bucket Blues" (performed on a Martin guitar he was keeping for a student) through the end-of-day satisfactions that cycle through "Jamaican Sunset," Jackson projects calm pleasures and tender reflections.

In "Your Eyes" he turns thoughts of his daughter Lucia into a melodic meditation on years past, during which a father's watched his child grow. "Excerpt of Tina Number III," part of a suite Ron dedicates to his first wife, seems to be a story of travel, too, as he switches between minor and major scales, dramatically stark strums and precisely articulated 16th note runs. "Park Slope," through-composed, is rather dark, considering it's inspired by a Brooklyn neighborhood of streets lined with trees and brownstones, often filled with young families. "Train to Groningen" continues the mood, which might be likened to saudade – the Brazilian concept of bittersweet reminiscence. Hear how clean Ron's attack is, and how he lets his notes ring as they trail off. Such music, unforced yet memorable, prompts a listener's own daydreams. "Australian Love Affair" also conveys the quality of memories.

But looking back while moving forward may come naturally to Jackson, who was born in the Philippines to a U.S. military family, and lived a relatively transient life into his high school years, when his parents settled in Harvard, Massachusetts (a little less than 50 miles northwest of Boston). Having already embraced music as his passion, Ron got into such noted guitar slingers of the day as Yes's Steve Howe, Michael Hedges, Pat Metheny (Watercolors was among Ron's favorites) and genre-confounding Leo Kotke.

At age 18 Jackson entered Berklee College of Music – "I got my butt kicked there," he laughs, knowing the experience raised his game. Later, while married to bassist Nicki Parrott, he sat in with such greats as Les Paul and Australian Tommy Emmanuel, with whom she was gigging. Ron also became enamored with the Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin trio – "They blew me away." Those heroes and Bucky Pizzarelli, Ron's most recent teacher, encouraged him to tackle the challenges of a self-produced solo project.

"It was a lot of work," he acknowledges. "I engineered and edited everything myself. I used microphones only on the guitars. Nothing is recorded directly to the board. I used four different kinds of guitars: the Martin, two Spanish-made nylon-string guitars by Aria, one with a built in pick-up, and my custom-made steel -string by Flyde, in England. That's what you hear on the steel-string tracks, except 'Bucket Blues,' which is the Martin."

Whichever instrument Ron uses, his approach, tone, pace and touch are distinctive. The mellowness of "Old Dusty Road," the quiet ache of "Too Late," the unhurried lyricism of "Londonderry Air," the details that build to subtly beautiful performances of "In My Dreams," "Barrington Tops" and "Ernestina" are all of a piece. "A Calypso Party" -- with overdubbed melody line, rhythmic chords and percussive tapping plus a mid-tune break with six guitar overdubs into something like Congolese soukous identifiably springs from the hands of the same man who spins the spritely "Jamaican Sunset."

Not just hands – entire persona. Ron emerges here as an artist who has composed and plays tunes weaving imagination, discipline, craft and expressiveness into a simply lovely whole. He's not falsely modest about what he's accomplished. He says, "I have six or seven records out of my own, but this is my favorite. I'm really happy about everything I did. It came out great."

Don't take his word for it – listen. You'll be able to easily relate to what he's done. The music is so nicely measured, intimately affable and captivating you might think for a moment that you yourself have made it. That's the extraordinary gift guitarist Ron Jackson offers. Sit down, unplug, let Akustik Inventyours spark unexpected auditory adventures.

Liner Notes by Howard Mandel President of the Jazz Journalists Association

Review from Alex Henderson reviewyou.com!

The electric guitar has a long history in jazz, going back to the late 1930s with Charlie Christian (who wrote the book on the electric guitar as a jazz instrument and influenced Barney Kessel, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Tiny Grimes, Jimmy Raney, George Benson, Jim Hall, Grant Green and countless others). But it’s important to remember that the jazz guitarists who preceded Christian played the acoustic guitar, including Philadelphia native Eddie Lang in the 1920s. The seminal Django Reinhardt, king of gypsy swing, also played the acoustic guitar. So given the importance of the acoustic guitar as a jazz instrument, it is highly appropriate when jazzmen who have made their mark on the electric guitar decide to record an acoustic album. And veteran guitarist Ron Jackson does exactly that on the engaging Akustik InventYours.

The New York City-based Jackson is unaccompanied on this instrumental album, and a pensive, introspective tone prevails on many of the selections. That is true of “Too Late,” “Park Slope” (which was written for an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn) and “Your Eyes” as well as “In My Dreams,” “Old Dusty Road,” “Ernestina” and a tender performance of the traditional ballad “Londonderry Air,” a.k.a. “Danny Boy.” But Akustik InventYours has its up-tempo moments as well. Jackson’s outlook is lively and festive on “Going Bush” and the Caribbean-flavored “Calypso Party.”

Akustik InventYours is essentially a post-bop album. But Jackson incorporates a variety of influences, including calypso on “Calypso Party,” reggae on “Going Bush,” the blues on “Bucket Blues” (which opens the CD), and Irish/Celtic music on “Londonderry Air.” There is a lot of history attached to “Londonderry Air,” which is the only song on this album that Jackson did not compose himself. Published in Northern Ireland in the 1850s, “Londonderry Air” was heard as strictly an instrumental for many years. But it became “Danny Boy” in the early 1910s when the lyrics of Frederick Edward Weatherly (who was British) were added. The lyrics proved to be wildly popular, making “Danny Boy” a favorite among Celtic vocalists. However, “Londonderry Air” is also played as an instrumental by some Celtic bands in Ireland and Scotland, and Jackson demonstrates that the time-honored melody can work really well in an instrumental jazz setting.

Meanwhile, the good-natured “Jamaican Sunset” does not employ a reggae beat, but it does have a strong Caribbean influence and evokes warm thoughts of that part of the world. Between “Calypso Party,” “Going Bush” and “Jamaican Sunset,” it is evident that Jackson thinks highly of the music of the Caribbean.

“Old Dusty Road,” meanwhile, has a country influence and was written in memory of guitarist Chet Atkins, who was a crucial figure in country music and worked with a long list of country stars that includes, among others, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Hank Snow, Jim Reeves, Don Gibson (of “Sea of Heartbreak” fame) and Waylon Jennings. Atkins (who died in 2001 at the age of 77) was important to early rock & roll as well, playing his guitar with the likes of Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers. But while Atkins is closely identified with country music, early rock & roll and rockabilly, he had a connection to jazz: one of his influences was Django Reinhardt, who wrote the book on gypsy swing guitar (Atkins was influenced by Merle Travis and Les Paul as well). And on “Old Dusty Road,” Jackson makes jazz and country elements sound like a perfectly natural combination. Jazz improvisation and a country twang work well for Jackson’s acoustic guitar on “Old Dusty Road.”

The fact that Jackson’s tastes are so far-reaching is a major plus on this 2014 release. Jackson clearly appreciates many different types of guitar playing, both inside and outside of jazz. And his sense of adventure and eclectic tastes yield excellent results on Akustik InventYours. This CD is a keeper.

Ron Jackson
Akustik InventYours
Review by Alex Henderson
4 stars out of 5


Guitarist Ron Jackson from New York has performed in more than 20 countries and recorded both as a band leader or musician. He mixes jazz with soul, R & B , pop, and his Filipino roots. He studied at the Berklee College of Music and has five instrumental jazz CDs to his credit. He gives himself guitar even in Groningen, France, Spain, the UK , Australia and Portugal. He is also active in the orchestras on Broadway and wrote songs for pop and jazz artists . And of course he was on the boards of various festivals. However, Ron plays the acoustic jazz guitar like Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt etc. . Did for him for the introduction of the electric guitar. And he does it alone without guidance. Opener ‘ Bucket Blues’ was inspired by blues guitarists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins. ‘ Your Eyes ‘ is dedicated again to his daughter Lucia. And the inspiration for ‘Park Slope ‘ was one of his favorite places in Brooklyn. ” Train To Groningen ‘ stands for the train between Amsterdam and Groningen. On ‘Calypso Party’ he goes the Caribbean direction , and the traditional ballad ‘ Londonderry Air’ stands for ‘ Danny Boy’ (the only cover) . Valve ‘Jamaican Sunset’ is of course about the sunset on that island. So a feast for lovers of acoustic guitar!

Patrick Van de Wiele ( 3 ½ )

Keys and Chords Magazine

A dream come true for lovers of acoustic guitar

Ron Jackson is a virtuoso on the 7 string, swinging his “ax” in straight ahead jazz outfits as well as R&B and funk situations wherever music lovers gather. Ron has worked all over the world as both a leader and a side-man, and he never disappoints.

His latest release is entitled Akustik Invent Yours and he deftly creates a surprising new sound on every soul-stirring track. This album takes you on a musical journey with cascading melodies, and thoughtful rhythms of the heart. One can tell just by listening that Mr. Jackson is a very centered soul with the goal in life of bringing his wonderful music to the masses. HIs influences range from blues to country to american roots music, all coming together to form this amazing gumbo of sounds to delight even the most casual listener of jazz.

I listened to the track Train to Gronigen as I took a long walk through the park. It conjured visions of the whimsical colors of spring and lined up perfectly as I noticed children playing hop scotch! I found the track entitled Your Eyes quite romantic and soothing at the same time.

I plan to enjoy this disc again and again and you can too! To catch Ron Jackson live is a guitar lover’s dream!

Sherry Morris, Jazz & Pop Blog



to write a review

Dick Metcalf

Akustik indeed!!!
I've been listening to (& reviewing) Ron's fantastic guitar jazz work for some years now, & have spoken with him more than a few times! I can tell you, this is one of the most exciting CD's I've heard (yet) this year! Every note is plucked right out of the creative zone that artists so often strive for, yet never reach! If you're looking for music that makes life more bearable (in fact, these 15 marvelous tracks will make you look forward to waking up to Ron's playing), and that is full of the promise and hope that we all need in our lives today - this is IT, folks! I was especially impressed with the 5:52 "Park Slope"... an epic sonic journey in & of itself! I gave it a top rating, and know that you'll want to get this in your collection, if you love well-played guitar with a totally fresh approach! (Rotcod Zzaj, aka Dick Metcalf)


great music
versatile, soulful guitarist. very impressive cd

Lucia Jackson

Great sound and beautiful compositions. I love the variety of styles between songs. Perfect!

Tony Middleton

Ron Jackson's new CD "AKUSTIK INVENTYOURS" is a wonderful ride of the moods & exciting fry this & tempos of the Ron Jackson's guitar. Ron has composed & arranged all of these masterful tunes.
He takes you from "Your Eyes" which is compelling, wistful & sensitive to "Tina Number III which is exotic with gorgeous tones to some intense Classical Spanish moments. This is a complicated piece which has the feel of a Concerto.
Some pieces are haunting, some loving & the "Calypso Party" which is gay & sexy with all of it's wonderful Afro-Caribe sounds. Ron Jackson caresses his guitars with sheer exuberance & elegance.

Ruth Metcalf

Clean, Contemporary with a Touch of Spain
Ron Jackson's style is eclectic and contemporary and very nice to listen to. He has elements of many genres in his playing which are mellow and pleasant on the ears. His original songs seem to tell a story, with a hint of Spanish flare in some. “Bucket Blues” and the “Old Dusty Road” are basic and easy, one with a bluesy note, and the other with a country flare. I really liked these.

It is apparent that Ron has studied the classics like Segovia, as his playing is very precise and inventive.
For example, in the excerpt from “Tina Number III”, there is a definite Spanish flare, as if he is admiring a beautiful Spanish dancer. I really liked this one! Also heard these elements on his absolutely beautiful “Austrailian Love Affair”. This one sounds like a throwback to a sixties romantic movie with some bittersweet tones mixed with lovely poignancy!

Other songs on the album that were interesting were:

“Train to Groningen”, which is steady, like a train, as the underlying pattern keeps it going. The textures of tone over the top make it sound as if you are at a busy train station, and of course, eventually, the train comes to a stop. Very nice!

“Too Late” which offers a melancholy mood, as if one is thinking about things lost in life and trying to make sense of it all. I especially liked the clock-like pattern at the end of the song.

“Park Slope”is in a minor key, but he balances this with some more traditional patterns. It sounds as if he is telling a dramatic story, with an ending like life. It's left open and you make of it what you want.

I especially liked his “Calypso Party” which sounds like a Spanish party – OLE! The stringed diversion in the middle and the explosion of sound at the end were great! I also liked the easy tropical feel of “Jamaican Sunset” and the lovely recurring theme.

I also think the selections were nicely laid out on the album, so it's a mix of lively and more laid back.
It's obvious that Ron has perfected his skills, and he offers a comfortable and varied palate of sounds. Very Enjoyable!

Sedric Shukroon

A masterpiece!
Ron Jackson is one of our very best New York guitarists and AKUSTIK shows a level of artistry that only few fully accomplished musicians can reach. Listening to his new album is like walking in an Art Gallery and getting increasingly amazed and excited as you go from one piece to the next. It is the playing, the writing, the grooving, the sound, the versatility and the maturity you hear in each tracks that makes Akustik special and magic. Thanks Mr. Jackson!


Just What I've Been Waiting For!
This recording is really amazing! Well recorded, great tunes and incredibly beautiful and virtuosic acoustic guitar fretting and fingerpicking skills. ....I can't stop listening to this!