Paul’s Ceremony – from Akiko

Paul Jackson’s Ceremony in Japan.

2021-3-23 Paul back at homePaul at funeral 2

This description is based on words from Akiko Suzuki, Paul’s wife, and the eulogy she read at his ceremony. Akiko also shares information with us about his health issues and his last tour and performances.

Paul’s funeral was in Japan and included family, friends, and musicians he played with both locally and from the US. In view of the pandemic, a limit of 25 people were there in person with other family and friends sharing the event remotely. The Buddhist ceremony began, with participants chanting a part of the Lotus Sutra led by Jun Saito,who was one of Paul’s best friends in Japan and who shared the same faith… At the end of it they surrounded Paul with messages written by each participant, and things which Akiko thought he’d like to bring with him. She placed “a big African costume which he wore at Jazz for Kids concerts and a nice grey shawl John created and presented to Paul years ago among other things. On top of these all participants placed flowers which first decorated the alter, so in the end he was surrounded by flowers.” He was then led by Akiko, carrying his portrait with Jun Saito and made a procession to the room where he was cremated. His ashes were later put into a porcelain jar, wrapped with nice embroidered cloth and placed at his home with his Funk on a Stick photo in a frame next to their Buddhist alter. Akiko says he looks comfortable.

Here are words from Akiko from the text she read from his funeral, translated from the Japanese speech:

She first thanked everyone for attending, away from their busy schedules to bid farewell to Paul. She said “As Paul’s death came out of the blue to most of you here, I would like to tell you the outline of what has been happening to his health.”

Paul’s later life was complicated by medical problems which became serious in 2014 after he returned from the European tour with The Paul Jackson Trio. This band featured Xantone Blaq from the U.K. on keys and Tony Match from France playing drums, the two of them “rich in talent and decades younger than Paul.” That 2014 tour was very successful in Europe and the trio went on to play for 10,000 people at Virada Cultural, presented by the Secretaria de Culture de Sao Paulo in Brazil. “Recording in London resulted in the release of ‘Groove or Die’ with the trio which became his last album.” After returning from the European tour his physical condition became so bad that he began to undergo dialysis which complicated his life as musician.

“By 2017 Paul’s health began to decline, at first gradually and in his last month, day by day. Having moved back to the Tokyo area, partially because of Studio Be, there, which was Paul’s favorite Studio with Hide-san, the owner and Paul’s best friend in Japan, Paul was going to master ‘The Best of Paul Jackson’ at Studio Be but this project never became a reality. He would have loved to play with good old musicians in good old live houses, but his health didn’t allow it. The last live show was at Satin Doll in Roppongi in August, 2017 with Akikazu Nakamura, the Shakuhachi flute player as leader.”

“After this performance, there has been no live performance, or more exactly, it became impossible to book Paul in any jobs. He used to walk with his famous snake cane, but it became so painful for him just to walk. He started to use a wheelchair. It took us several months to find the cause of the pain, which was a hernia on the spine. He had an operation in February 2018. As the cause of his pain was removed by the operation I had hoped that Paul would soon graduate from his wheelchair but it didn’t happen until the end. His liver started to aggravate gradually, arteriosclerosis worsened and other problems developed.”

By March 10th he was in such a bad state that his doctors were concerned enough to place him in the ICU. He lived his life with so much pain “a year earlier we talked about what might happen in the future and concluded that no treatment just to prolong his life was wanted. Most important was that he didn’t suffer from pains. He wanted to go peacefully. Understanding Paul’s wish, doctors stopped treatment” at an appropriate time “and increased a dosage of medication equivalent to morphine and he went into a painless sleep from which he would not awake. Fortunately, Hide-san, Hiro, and Saori all rushed to Paul’s bedside quickly enough so he went, surrounded by us all, unable to speak but hearing us.”

Akiko concluded by saying “I am so grateful that Paul has finally come to peaceful sleep, and has gone to the world with no dialysis or sufferings. Looking back, Paul’s 73 years has been so full. Blessed with musical talent, Paul’s whole life centered around playing the bass. Through music, he made lots of good friends. Not only friends here who came to the funeral, but all the friends around the world are now mourning for him. I know you guys here as musicians know Paul’s music much better than I do, but I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the friendship you had with Paul, and for having created wonderful music with Paul. For me, from now, it will be life without Paul. But I have wonderful memories with Paul for the past 26 years, and lots of Paul’s CD’s which I can listen to. With these as my propelling power, I will step forward. Thank you again for coming and being here today.“

We all miss him and send him our love on his journey.

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