musician from Los Angeles,
California, who started out
on the clarinet and then gravitated to the alto saxophone. He took formal lessons at the Gray Conservatory and was playing professionally
at fifteen years of age.
Some of the
musicians he performed with were Ray Anthony, Bill Berry, Barney Bigard, C.L. Burke, Benny Carter, Bob Crosby, Duke
Ellington, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Roy Milton, Kid Ory, Marshal Royal, Lucky Thompson, and Billy Vaughan.
switched to the tenor saxophone and proved that he could rock, as well as
swing, on recordings such as Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’
the Night Away”, Thurston Harris’s “Do What You Did”,
and Johnny Otis’s “Bye Bye Baby”.
He was a
member of The Johnny Otis Show and appeared on their self-titled, 1958
album. When Phil Spector needed saxophonists to help create the “Wall
of Sound”, he regularly used Steve Douglas, Jackie Kelso, and Nino
together an exhaustive discography, much too long to list in its entirety,
but here are some highlights: Aja by Steely
Dan, All Good Things – Jerry Garcia
Studio Sessions, The Axelrod
Chronicles, The Best of Sam Cooke,
Christopher Cross, Dan Cassidy, A Decade of Steely Dan, Here
Comes Shuggie Otis, Lifetime Friend by Little Richard, Nigel Olsson, Quincy
Jones Talkin’ Verve, Quincy’s Got a Brand New Bag,
and Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren.
In 1984, he
took some time off to travel—a lot of time—and reemerged eleven
years later in concert with The Count Basie Orchestra, which he would join
full-time in 1998. For some
reason, he also went back to his birth surname, Kelson.
Jackie is a
versatile musician who has navigated the genres with seeming
effortlessness, from big band, to jazz, to R&B, to rock, to swing. It is little wonder he has been one
of the go-to guys in the recording industry for the better part of seven