‘His death makes no sense’: MTHS music director remembers ‘fun and funny’ Forest Jackson

Photos of Forest Jackson at the Essentially Ellington competition in 2011. Here, he's seen with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
Photos of Forest Jackson at the Essentially Ellington competition in 2011. Here, he’s seen with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

For Forest Jackson, music was a passion. His Facebook page displays posts about rock bands and music festivals, and his past includes four years of involvement in the concert and jazz bands at Mountlake Terrace High School

But the music ended all too soon for the 20-year-old Mountlake Terrace man, who was the victim of a fatal stabbing just after 1 a.m. on March 29.

There may have been no one on the staff of Mountlake Terrace High School who knew Jackson better than Darin Faul, the school’s music department director. “I had Forest in two classes a day for four years,” Faul said. “Forest was totally into music. In addition to sax, he also played guitar, although not in any classes. He was into lots of different styles of music. Forest grew so much while he was here and it was fun to see.”

2014-03-31_10-47-47Jackson was a member of the MTHS Jazz 1 band that placed third in the 2011 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition in New York; Jackson was also recognized at the event for his saxophone solo performances.

“He wrote a note to me after Essentially Ellington that brings me comfort right now,” Faul stated. “It said, ‘Placing at EE and getting a soloist award is the greatest experience I could ask for.’ I’m glad he was so happy and proud.”

Faul has been leading the bands at Mountlake Terrace High School since January 1998, and has seen hundreds of young musicians come through the school’s music program. Although Jackson graduated from Terrace three years ago — in 2011 — Faul still recalls the effort Jackson put in there.

“He was able to be serious and work hard but make the work fun at the same time,” Faul said. “I appreciated the intensity with which he played music — he would throw all of himself into it.”

“One time I was frustrated with Forest because he wasn’t practicing as much as I thought he should for band class,” Faul recalled. “I challenged him to a contest — who could play a better solo by the next day. I would do it on tenor (saxophone), which I hadn’t played in about 12 years and when I did I wasn’t very good. He didn’t like the idea of doing a solo battle with me.”

“I practiced all day, but so did Forest,” Faul continued. “I had to record my solo the night before because my lip was so swollen and I couldn’t play anymore! Well, it worked for the both of us! Forest came in the next day sounding great, just as I knew he could! I liked Forest. You could do things like that with him and he would get it. He understood that I was just trying to push him to be the best he could be.”

Faul also remembers Jackson as an outgoing, spirited teen. “Forest had lots of friends, was easy going, liked to laugh. He had a great smile. He certainly wasn’t without a mischievous side, but it was always lighthearted and in the name of fun. He was always respectful — one of those kids who is fun and funny — lots of personality.”

Faul said that he hadn’t seen Jackson much since his June 2011 graduation, the last time being at the school’s jazz symposium last October. “I’m so sorry for his family and friends,” Faul said. “His death makes no sense and is so tragic. So sad.”

— By Doug Petrowski

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