Frank E. Jackson Sr., 89, a retired Philadelphia Police Department auto mechanic whose musical talents gave rise to the Frank Jackson Big Band, died Friday, Dec. 6, of cardiac arrest at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough.
Mr. Jackson, a longtime resident of West Philadelphia, retired after 29 years with the department in 1988. His true passion, though, was music. A gifted, self-taught performer on multiple instruments, he also composed and arranged music.
After retiring, he formed a 15-piece band consisting of three trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones, a standing bass, drums, guitar and piano.
The ensemble, featuring vocalist Anita Mooreland, performed in New York, Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware. Much of the band's music was arranged by Mr. Jackson.
"You could call him at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, and he would be up, at the dining room table, arranging music," said daughter Cynthia.
He used the band to celebrate his idols, the jazz greats Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and to pay homage to more modern music, his daughter said.
Mr. Jackson's health declined over the last three years, and so did the fortunes of the band, although it rehearsed as recently as a year ago.
Mr. Jackson was married to the former Alice McConico. They separated. She died in 1989.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Jackson is survived by daughters, Beverly, Francine, and Veronica Creighton; a son, Frank Jr.; 14 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Alice.
A viewing will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at St. Cyprian Catholic Church, 525 S. Cobbs Creek Parkway. A Funeral Mass follows at 10. Burial is in Merion Memorial Park, Bala Cynwyd.