Javon Jackson

Javon Jackson headshot

Professor of Jazz Saxophone; Director of Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz

Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz

The Hartt School
860.768.5797 F 427

MM, State University of New York College at Purchase

BM, Berklee College of Music

Tenor Saxophonist Javon Jackson came into international prominence touring and recording with the legendary drummer Art Blakey as a member of his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  In addition to Mr. Blakey, Javon has toured with numerous jazz luminaries that include Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Cedar Walton, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Joanne Brackeen, Jimmy Heath, Richard Davis and Curtis Fuller.  As leader or co-leader, Mr. Jackson has participated in 21 recording projects that have included such renowned artists as Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Ron Carter, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, Les McCann, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Lenny White. 

As composer, Javon was commissioned by the Syracuse International Film Festival to compose a full-length score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Lodger”- a silent film based on the story of the hunt for Jack the Ripper.  The debut of this original score occurred at the festival and was performed live at the film’s screening on October 15, 2010.

In 2013, Javon was appointed the Director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at The Hartt School, University of Hartford.  During his tenure as Director, he has created a new curriculum and updated courses pertaining to the undergraduate Jazz Studies program.  In addition to innovating the undergraduate curriculum, Javon is the founding Director of the Master in Jazz Studies program in the fall of 2018.  When developing the curriculum, Javon worked alongside fellow Jazz Studies faculty members and received support from his friend and mentor, David Baker, NEA Jazz Master and legendary Jazz educator.  This is the first and only graduate degree program in Jazz within the state of Connecticut and is accredited by NASM.

In the fall of 2017, Javon incorporated a campus wide course, “The Art of Jazz” that is now offered as an elective option. He was integral in working with the Director of the Music Education department to create a path for an undergraduate double major degree in Music Education and Jazz Studies. The Music Education major with a Jazz studies emphasis was also created for Master of Music students for the fall of 2019.

Pertaining to diversity at the University of Hartford, through Mr. Jackson’s efforts and coordination, he secured the successful visits of Dr. Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez, Dr. Angela Y. Davis, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Nikki Giovanni to the University of Hartford for an annual February Black History Month conversation and Q & A. These events are provided free of charge to students and the Greater-Hartford community for engagement with these iconic civic leaders and internationally recognized social activists.  Hosted by the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, these events are held in collaboration with the Africana Studies department of Hillyer College and the Office of the President, University of Hartford.  As part of Javon’s initiative as curator, Dr. Angela Y. Davis (2019) and Nikki Giovanni (2020) received honorary doctorates from the University of Hartford during their particular visits.

With respect to fund raising efforts for the underrepresented and underserved, Mr. Jackson has been fortunate and successful to have raised the money necessary for the creation of two fully endowed scholarships (J3 Scholarship in 2019 & Amy B. Robinson Scholarship in 2020).  Quoting Javon, “For me, this is an exciting opportunity to set in motion funding strategies with entrepreneurial minds of the greater Hartford business sector and beyond.  Lastly, as grant writer to the Hartford Foundation of Public (2016), Javon created a summer Jazz camp, “Meet the Masters”, an annual week-long camp that connects jazz students and adult jazz musicians with internationally recognized jazz masters of the idiom.  The student involvement ranges for ages 13 to 18.

Mr. Jackson served as Assistant Professor of Jazz at Long Island University (NY) 1996-1998, and as Assistant Professor of Jazz in the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College (NY) 1999-2007.  Also, Javon currently serves as Chair of Jazz for the National YoungArts Foundation.