Ronald Shannon Jackson (January 12, 1940 – October 19, 2013) was an American jazz drummer and composer from Fort Worth, Texas. A pioneer of avant-garde jazz, free funk, and jazz fusion, he appeared on over 50 albums as a bandleader, sideman, arranger, and producer. Jackson and bassist Sirone are the only musicians to have performed and recorded with the three prime shapers of free jazz: pianist Cecil Taylor, and saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler.

Musician, Player and Listener magazine writers David Breskin and Rafi Zabor called him “the most stately free-jazz drummer in the history of the idiom, a regal and thundering presence.” Gary Giddins wrote “Jackson is an astounding drummer, as everyone agrees…he has emerged as a kind of all-purpose new-music connoisseur who brings a profound and unshakably individual approach to every playing situation.”

In 1979, he founded his own group, the Decoding Society, playing what has been dubbed free funk: a blend of funk rhythm and free jazzimprovisation.

Jackson was born in Fort Worth, Texas. As a child, he was immersed in music. His father monopolized the local jukebox business and established the only African American-owned record store in the Fort Worth area. His mother played piano and organ at their local church. Between the ages of five and nine he took piano lessons.

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