Jackson, Tony [Anthony; Antonio]
- Marcello Piras
(b New Orleans, LA, Oct 25, 1884; d Chicago, IL, April 20, 1921). American pianist, singer, and composer. Born to a poor family and self-taught, he began playing a harpsichord of sorts at ten, until neighbors let him practice on their pianos and organs. He was a professional at 13 and was considered the best pianist in town at 15. He was much in demand in the red-light district because of his musical memory and vast repertoire, embracing classical, light classical, opera, cake-walk (which he danced while playing), popular songs from the United States, Europe, and Latin America, blues, and, above all, ragtime. He could read and improvise, sing in a powerful operatic style in any range from baritone to soprano, and even adopt blues inflections. His attire was widely imitated. Jelly Roll Morton considered him a great pianist-entertainer and his principal role model....