Ali Jackson Jr. developed his talent on drums at an early age. In 1993, he graduated from Cass Tech High School and was the recipient of Michigan’s prestigious Artserv “Emerging Artist” award in 1998. As a child, he was selected as the soloist for the “Beacons Of Jazz” concert that honored legend Max Roach at New School University. After earning an undergraduate degree in music composition at the New School University for Contemporary Music, he studied under Elvin Jones and Max Roach
Mr. Jackson has performed and recorded with a wide array of diverse artists including Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin,George Benson, Harry Connick, Jr., KRS-1, Marcus Roberts, Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Vinx, Seito Kinen Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa, Diana Krall and the New York City Ballet.
His production skills can be heard on George Benson’s GRP release "Irreplaceable". Mr. Jackson is also featured on various recordings from the Wynton Marsalis Quartet including The Magic Hour (Blue Note,2004), several recordings from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and 3 albums of his own as a leader, including "Groove en Tete," "Big Brown Get Down," and “Wheelz Keep Rollin".
Mr. Jackson collaborated with jazz greats Cyrus Chestnut, Reginald Veal and James Carter on Gold Sounds (Brown Brothers, 2005) which transformed indie alternative rock band Pavement songs into unique virtuosic interpretations, with the attitude of the church and juke joint. He has been a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 2005. Mr. Jackson also hosted “Jammin’ with Jackson” a series for young musicians at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy Club Coca-Cola. Jackson is also heard as the voice of “Duck Ellington,” a character in the Penguin book series Baby Loves Jazz
Ali has appeared with various configurations on television including: Conan O’Brien with the Eldar trio, “The View” and "60 Minutes" with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, as well as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and David Letterman. He is seen and heard in Apple Computers’ iPod Ad campaign (2006) entitled “Sparks”. His playing is also heard in “Bolden”, a film about the beginnings of jazz.
In 2010, Mr. Jackson served as the Artistic Director for "The Beats of NYC: A Jazz Journey Through Dance, Rhythm & Rhyme", a presentation which explored the function of the beat in jazz, contemporary music, tap dance, and spoken word. The program featured renowned choreographer, Hope Boykin of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, tap dancers Dormeshia Edwards and Derick K. Grant, and spoken-word artists Latasha N. Nevada Diggs and David Jefferson Jr.
Recently, Ali was featured on CD/DVD “Two Men with the Blues”, a Blue Note release with music legends Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson. Through his continued drive and integrity Ali aspires to bring the essence and legacy of Jazz music to the universe