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Arts Spotlight: Jazz Ambassador Reuben Jackson

Written by Bill Anderson on . Posted in The Arts

ReubenJackson_credit Stephanie Seguino

Reuben Jackson. Courtesy photo by Stephanie Seguino.

A treasure in our midst, Reuben Jackson, host of VPR’s “Friday Night Jazz,” moved to Vermont in 2011 after 20 years as the curator of the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. As a teenager, he first encountered Vermont in 1974 en route home from a vacation in Montreal, and while, at first, he says he was panic-stricken — “I’d never been stared at before,” — by the time he left, “I was smitten by the state’s beauty.”

He returned to attend Goddard College, and after working in D.C., he came back to Vermont; then in 2012 he took over as host of “Friday Night Jazz.” Calm and equipoised, Jackson’s show reliably presents, as one listener commented online, “an elegantly eclectic mix of textures, tempos and eras.” Each program displays a formidable range, yet never feels forced.

“I try to balance old and new,” Jackson says, “and I love cross-pollinations. I enjoy looking at the relationships between the music, and the evolution of that which continues to influence jazz.”

To read the extended version of this spotlight, see page 16 in the Summer 2015 issue.

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