Texan drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson (1940), who relocated to New York in 1966,
was influenced by his three main sessions,
Ornette Coleman's Dancing in Your Head (1976),
Cecil Taylor's Unit (1978) and
James "Blood" Ulmer's Are You Glad To Be In America (1980),
to start his own group, the Decoding Society.
Their debut album, Eye On You (1980), for an octet with violinist Billy Bang, saxophonists Byard Lancaster and Charles Brackeen, guitarist Vernon Reid, two bassists (including Melvin Gibbs), was still a transitional work fragmented into short unpretentious pieces (notably the catchy Apache Cry Love), but
Nasty (march 1981), featuring a tighter nonet with Reid, Gibbs, three saxophonists and vibraphonist Khan Jamal, boasted the ten-minute Black Widow and the eleven-minute When We Return that clearly stated Jackson's purpose: revise Ornette Coleman's harmolodic principle, as embodied by his Prime Time, while adding disproportionate doses of funk and rock.
Jackson pursued a turbulent and intricate synthesis of composition and improvisation not in the sense that they coexist and complement each other but in the sense that they contrast and antagonize each other.
This hybrid of free and fusion jazz was perfected on
Street Priest (june 1981), with two new saxophonists
and Mandance (june 1982), with a trumpet and only one saxophone,
with the drumming hanging halfway between Tony Williams and Sunny Murray, but leaning towards the former, and further stimulated by the dual bass attack and
by Reid's explosive (and sometimes electronic) guitar riffs.
A complacent routine led from Barbeque Dog (march 1983) to less and less consistent albums: Pulse (january 1984), Decode Yourself (1985),
the When Colors Play (september 1986), with the lengthy Sweet Orange, March of the Pink Wallflowers and Listening to a Mirror,
Texas (april 1987) and Red Warrior (november 1988),
with the 13-minute Elders.
Jackson also joined Last Exit in 1986 and Bill Frisell's Power Tools in 1987.
The Decoding Society continued to record but shrank considerably.
Raven Roc (february 1992) was a quartet with two guitars and bass.
Jackson died of leukemia in october 2013 at the age of 73.
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