• Smooth Jazz Network

Paul Jackson Jr: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Paul Jackson Jr.


Paul Jackson Jr’s current single “City of Refuge” is literally flying up the smooth jazz charts. We were able to grab a few moments and catch up for this week’s BEATS interview spotlight.


Paul, congrats on the new single! It’s been one of the most active singles on the chart these past few weeks. Did you think this one would be so well received?

I never take it for granted that people are gonna like what I do. It wasn’t exactly surprising, but I was very very pleased with the reaction to “City Of Refuge”


You have Jeff Lorber joining on keys… how did that come about?

I’ve been working with Jeff Lorber pretty steadily for about the past 30 years or so. Be it one of my projects, one of his solo albums or productions, or with our group Jazz Funk Soul (with Everett Harp). Also, Jeff has done a pretty fair amount of remixes for big pop records. I played on a lot of those as well. So this was us doing what we have happily done for years.



Tell us about “M and P Music Factory”…. and how the ‘business’ of the music business has changed for you over the years.

M And P Music Factory was founded as a vehicle for creative expression. The projects coming from M And P will be varied in nature and content, but with a creative thread running through all of them.


You are one of the few people in LA whom I have met, who is actually from Los Angeles! What was it like growing up in LA and how did music shape your youth?

Growing up in Los Angeles was the best! I grew up with people like Gerald and Glynis Albright, Patrice Rushen (who is still my “boss” today), the horn players in Earth, Wind, and Fire, and many others. As well as being mentored by people like Ray Parker Jr., Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Al McKay, Wah Wah Watson, and the great Motown Producer Frank Wilson. Having access to such great people was invaluable in my development as a musician, and as a man.







The Tonight Show, American Idol, The Academy Awards and several Grammy performances. Among these amazing career highlights, tell us about any special ones.

Just being a part the The Tonight Show, American Idol, The Academy Awards, and the Grammys are all highlights in themselves!!! Being blessed to have been a part of such great shows still boggles my mind. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, and my buddy, musical director Rickey Minor, for the opportunities to participate in these history making events.


How have you adapted to the world professionally and personally over the past 18 months?

Adapting to the current state of the world has not been easy for anyone. I was fortunate in that I was able to record for myself and others at my own studio. Also, I’m an Assistant Professor of Record in the USC Thornton School Of Music, Popular Music Division, under Patrice Rushen (hence the “boss” reference). I was able to teach from home, and interact with students and instructors alike via video conferencing and file sharing. Not easy, nor the most fun, but we were able to keep going. And that was the blessing. That, in spite of great challenges, I was able to keep going.



Any advice for young musicians?

My advice for young musicians is this; 1) Music is much more than a profession, it’s a calling. With all of the ups and downs, highs and lows, and changes in styles, technology, and distribution, you have to KNOW that music is what you’re supposed to do in life. 2) Don’t give up. If you know you’re called to be in music, know that some things take time. Success happens when opportunity and preparation collide. So, in the words of rapper Suga Free, “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready”. 3) Less social media, more practice!!! To be a real influencer, you have to be doing something that people really care about. If you have no story, your don’t have much to post about. 4) Be known as the person who works harder than anyone else. The more prepared you are, the better your chances. And finally 5) Work like you had no help from God, and after you’ve done everything you can do, trust God like you haven’t worked at all!!!


Keep up with Paul Jackson Jr. online, here.

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