Jackson is a project founded by keyboard maestro-singer-songwriter-arranger Jack Baldus, working closely with the legendary DJ Asian Hawk – currently the only person in the world who scratches records and sings simultaneously. When we meet, he’s just back from playing WOMAD, which he has done for the last five years, and loves, because “it’s special – not just a load of people getting wrecked.” Now he’s gearing up for the act’s EP launch at the Gallimaufry on Tuesday, August 15 where a stunning line-up of Bristol’s finest musicians will join him onstage: expect saxophone with mad effects, trombone, guitar, bass, turntables, keys, and vocals. Each set is never quite the same because the line-up revolves, and as a result, their jazz/funk/prog/nu-soul sound keeps evolving.
Jack says Push Through, his third EP, “is a soundtrack to a film that never happened.” There is something cinematic about it – perhaps it’s the lush strings, bright brass arrangements, and the thundering drums that make it an exhilarating listen – like running down a bumpy hill under a changing sky. So what was the film in his mind that never happened? “The recent election,” Jack replies. “The weight of the Tory government in times of austerity, and the media who smear those who give hope.” With themes like these running through his work, perhaps he can finally shed those Jamiroquai comparisons.
It’s clear he’s a totally committed musician. He says that Jackson is “somewhat a solo project, because I write it all and finance and promote it all.” It can be tricky for a band to progress when they straddle a lot of genres like Jackson, but he’d rather have it that way, because he acknowledges that it “probably won’t be a mainstream thing, because I won’t pigeonhole or compromise what I want to do. If I’m writing music that I haven’t tailored for a certain target audience, then I’ll always be happy.”
Jack’s got form throwing parties at Mr Wolf’s. So why choose the Gallimaufry for his EP launch? “It’s the best venue in Bristol,” says Jack, “because the owner takes a gamble and programmes new, original music, Monday to Friday. That’s a risk in the centre of town. Plus it’s free apart from a hat for donations.” And what can we expect to see? “Every track from the album, plus a secret support act,” says Jack, with a wink. As an afterthought he adds: “People say it’s an intense affair watching one of my gigs. I wouldn’t necessarily say so, but I do like to switch things up.” We can’t wait.
Push Through will be released with an EP launch at the Gallimaufry on Tuesday, August 15. Entry is free. See the Facebook event over at www.facebook.com/events/1803541389957278
Photography by Laura Palmer