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Miles Davis/Milt Jackson: Miles Davis and Milt Jackson Quintet/Sextet

Album Reviews:

Q (3/00, p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...packs more excitement and inspiration into half an hour than a good deal of the more substantial and feted Davis/Coltrane sessions that would follow....vibraphonist Milt Jackson is in unusually aggressive mood and Davis himself is at his sweetest."

Album Notes

Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Milt Jackson (vibraphone); Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); Ray Bryant (piano); Percy Heath (bass); Art Taylor (drums).

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on August 5, 1955. Originally released on Prestige (7034). Includes liner notes by Ira Gitler and Martin Williams.

Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1982, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).

Less heralded than their collaboration with Thelonious Monk (as documented on Bags' Groove and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants), this August 5, 1955 session with vibraphonist Milt Jackson was Davis' last all-star collaboration before the formation of his first classic quintet. It marked a farewell to an older generation of acolytes and fellow travelers; Davis was entering a new era of leadership and international stardom, and generally he would only record with his working groups. Quintet/Sextet is notable for two compositions by Jackie McLean: "Dr. Jackle" and "Minor March" (it appears on his famous 1959 Blue Note date New Soil as "Minor Apprehension"). The former is a Charlie Parker-ish line featuring a masterful Milt Jackson symposium on the blues -- Davis' typically lyric approach, a tart, spacious flight from McLean, and a soulful, dancing Ray Bryant. The latter is a mysterious minor figure with jabbing rhythm breaks and a joyous bridge that recalls "Tempus Fugit." McLean's vaulting cadences and fervent cry anticipate the rapture of his mature style, and Bryant takes a harmonically adventuresome solo. Elsewhere, the group digs into the Bud Powell-like changes of Ray Bryant's low, slow "Changes" (over the rock-solid groove of Percy Heath and Art Taylor), and the quirky harmonies and angular melodies of Thad Jones' "Bitty Ditty." "Changes" inspires a lovely muted statement from Davis, and illustrates Bryant's unique blend of blues, sanctified gospel, and bebop. Davis and Jackson combine for pungent voicings on the head to "Bitty Ditty," then demonstrate their elegant mastery of harmony and swing. Both are inspired by the shape of Jones' line, and are completely unfazed by its intricacies.


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