Musicians, ladies and gentlemen, this is the official website of Ronald Shannon Jackson.

Ronald Shannon Jackson died peacefully at his home in Ft. Worth on October 19, 2013.


When pioneering free-jazz composer, drummer, and Decoding Society bandleader Ronald Shannon Jackson died on October 19, 2013, he left behind a vast archive of unreleased audio and video material. Now, Fort Worth-based producers Curtis Heath and Britt Robisheaux are working in cooperation with Jackson’s son and executor, New York-based video artist Talkeye Jackson, to make this material available to the public – the first official release of Jackson’s music since 2000.

The premiere digital release, due out via iTunes on January 14, 2014, is Live At the Kessler -- the complete recording of Jackson’s last live performance, recorded at the Kessler Theater in historic Oak Cliff, Texas, by engineer Paul Quigg. On this occasion, the Decoding Society included founding member Melvin Gibbs on bass along with a trio of Texas musicians: guitarist Gregg Prickett, trumpeter John Wier, and violinist Leonard Hayward. Besides new originals by Jackson, the program included compositions by Wayne Shorter, Prickett, and Gibbs (a version of “Howard Beach Memoirs,” which Gibbs and Jackson recorded in 1987 with the group Power Tools).

From the Dallas Observer’s review of the concert:

As brightly as his sidemen shone, it was unarguably Jackson's night. At 72, his presence is both magisterial and elfin. His polyrhythmic thunder takes the innovations of Elvin Jones (13 years his senior) and Tony Williams (five years his junior) to a place more primal and ritualistic. He's a loud drummer, but always musical. His rhythm is highly melodic; when he solos on a tune, you can hear the changes. He seems to have absorbed the whole history of his instrument, sounding at times like a one-man drum line, a timbale player, a Taiko drummer or an entire village of African drummers. His total mastery of his tools allows him to play with unbridled abandon, tapping into something deep and primeval. He seems to conjure music from the air around him.

Jackson's new compositions are as strong as the best of his recorded works. "Momma Plays the Guitar," which Jackson dedicated to former Decoding Society guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, included a slide episode from Prickett that managed to invoke the spirits of both Duane Allman and Sonny Sharrock. "People We Love" provided an early high point to the set, with the band locking into a monstrous groove. Other pieces showcased the composer's dynamic range. "Concerto for Drums" alternated contrasting sections of pastel lyricism and percussive fury (along with more than a little humor), while "Petals" juxtaposed a tender lament with an earthy samba.

You can listen to the tracks here:

Media requests, contact

Ronald Shannon Jackson in concert
Ronald Shannon Jackson made a rare appearance in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area on July 7, 2012, in the Jazz at the Kessler series at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff. Here's Ken Shimamoto's review in the Dallas Observer.

This concert was named one of the top 10 concerts in the Dallas Ft. Worth Metroplex of 2012 by Audra Schroeder of the Dallas Observer.

New CD available: Ronald Shannon Jackson Live at the Kessler. See the CDs page for more information.

People We Love



Concerto for Drums

New section: Interviews, excerpts from a long series of interviews with Ronald Shannon Jackson conducted by John Murphy in the mid-2000s.

Decoding Society T-shirt and CD offer

T-shirt cost: $25.00 plus $7 shipping and handling. For an additional $15, receive an autographed copy of the CD "Mandance", for a total of $47 (in the U.S.) or $57 (outside the U.S.). For information about the availability of the T-shirt, contact

© 2014 Ronald Shannon Jackson | Last updated June 6, 2014