Jackson underwent heart surgery last year, while in Germany to perform at the jazz festival in Moers, where he's been featured regularly since the '80s. (He had to check himself out of the hospital to play the gig, returning when he was done.) When contacted about this article, he had just returned from attending a wedding in Austin. "These musicians want to rehearse," he explains, "but I have to recuperate. I'm not 60 anymore!" (He turned 72 on January 12.)

"I'm superstitious about performing," he continues. "When you go to a rehab hospital, they have you detox for 21 days. Before I play a concert, I like to practice the songs for 21 days. That way, when you get to the concert, there's a sense of anticipation, but you just do the same thing you've been doing every day, even though you might play the song differently every day. What I won't do is rehearse the day of the concert. When Paganini was getting ready to play a concert, he wouldn't practice; he'd lie in bed in the dark all day."

Asked why he was performing in the area again after a 13-year hiatus, Jackson replied, "Because I have a band. When the music comes, then the musicians come, it's time to go out and play again."

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