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Final Franz concert on CD for 100th

Published 7:24pm Thursday, October 11, 2012


The sixth annual Franz Jackson Jazz Celebration: Blowin’ The Blues Away! takes place at noon, Nov. 10 at Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center.

A CD release party follows at Wood Fire at 8 p.m. for “Franz Jackson: Milestone,” recorded at DMS PAC during Jackson’s 95th birthday concert.

His daughter, Michelle Jewell of Niles, funded the two-disc set through a grassroots campaign via It is scheduled to be officially released on Nov. 1 — the 100th anniversary of his 1912 birth.

An all-star cast of musicians performed and many will return for the release party, including Eric Schneider, Judi K, Yves Francois and Billy “Stix” Nicks.

The Chicago jazz legend lived south of Dowagiac.

The celebration honors his lifetime of contributions to the music world.

Scheduled so far for the PAC concert are the Chris Greene Quartet (CGQ, and Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra (

Jackson passed away in May 2008 at 95. He started his professional career at 16 with boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons.

He played with virtually every jazz great, including Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

In 2005, he was an American Heritage Jazz Series honoree as one of the greatest living jazz tenor saxophonists.

Jackson also appeared with Garrison Keillor on “The Prairie Home Companion” and was interviewed by Dowagiac visitor Studs Terkel.

In November 2007, his 95th birthday was celebrated at the DMS PAC with an almost-three-hour gala featuring two dozen musicians from across the United States and raised more than $7,000 donated to four non-profit organizations for arts education, preservation and promotion.

This year, the Franz Jackson Jazz Celebration is collaborating with Charity Music Inc. (, a Michigan-based non-profit that provides new and used musical instruments to homeless and disadvantaged children.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 12-17; children younger than 12 are admitted free. A limited number of tickets for the CD release party will be sold for $25 per person, which includes a digital download of “Milestone.”

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