In The Nashville Scene: A Local Jazz Convo With Scene Contributor Ron Wynn

Jewly Hight: My colleague Marquis spoke with you last month about a piece you wrote for The Nashville Scene on the reopening of the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Today’s topic is what you wrote about Nioshi Jackson for the Scene‘s August 12 issue. For the uninitiated, who is Nioshi Jackson? What kind of roles has he filled in music in Nashville, and in what kinds of music?

Ron Wynn: Nioshi, although he’s been here so long now, it seems like he’s a Nashvillian, but he actually came from the West Coast. He’s a very prolific individual. He is a drummer. He he played in lots of jazz groups and also gone on tour with a lot of big country stars. And his most recent project as a player is he’s on a couple of tracks on the new Steve Cropper album. Now, that’s just one of his attributes. He also has done a lot of artist promotion and management on the country side.

JH: This is not the first time that you have interviewed Nioshi. You did another piece for the Scene nearly a decade ago. What was he up to in the music business at that point that caught your attention?

RW:  At that time, he was really getting into the promotion management side, working with some country artists. And his brother Toshi had just started being the both an on-air jock and also doing a program directing for a West Coast country station. I guess what got me about that was that that was a period when you didn’t have a big presence of Blacks in country music. And not that you’ve got loads now, but you’ve got much more now than you did back then.

JH: Nioshi Jackson definitely has intimate knowledge of Nashville’s jazz landscape. That’s what you talked with him about this time. What is this jazz series that he’s starting?

RW:  The original plan was to start it earlier and then, of course, the pandemic put a kibosh on pretty much all that presentation. But what they’re doing out at the Lighthouse on the Lake in Hendersonsville is the second and fourth Sunday of each month. They’re going to do live jazz in the jazz room downstairs. Then they’re also doing a jazz brunch on those occasions and they’re doing a weekly jazz jam session. And what Nioshi envisions is Hendersonville becoming another option for local jazz artists, regional jazz artists, and eventually, hopefully even national, international. Now, that’s going to take time because the pandemic is still kind of raging out there. So there’s not a lot of bringing people in nationally, but eventually they want to do that as well.

JH: That seems like a significant thing, trying to to grow the jazz scene here in the Nashville area.

RW: Right. And there is a lot happening all over the area. I mean, between the Jazz workshop Reopening or relocating and being back open now. They’ve actually started having open classes again. And then you’ve got Rudy’s [Jazz Room] is back open three or four nights a week. You got the Monday night jazz scene, which is another thing that’s happening. So there’s a lot going on in the jazz vein in town, and that’s a good thing.