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Milt Jackson: Milt Jackson [Blue Note]

Album Notes

Reissued as the Rudy Van Gelder edition WIZARD OF THE VIBES.

Personnel: Milt Jackson (vibraphone); Kenny "Pancho" Hagood (vocals); Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone); John Lewis, Thelonious Monk (piano); Percy Heath, John Simmons (bass); Kenny Clarke, Shadow Wilson (drums).

Producer: Alfred Lion.

Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.

Recorded at WOR Studios, New York, New York on April 7, 1952 and Apex Studios, New York, New York on July 2, 1948. Includes liner notes by Ira Gitler.

This Blue Note release collects two sessions by Milt "Bags" Jackson--a 1948 collaboration between the vibraphonist and pianist/composer Thelonious Monk, and a '52 session with Bags's Modern Jazz Quartet cohorts John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). On five of the nine tracks from this latter session, Jackson and company are joined by alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson (who contributes his own composition "On the Scene"). The fare on the '52 sessions is bebop with a light, consistent swing. The sophisticated sound of the MJQ, which would reach its apex in the years following this recording, is already in place here, and Donaldson's smooth alto lends balance to Lewis and Jackson's intertwining lines.

The '48 sessions are, naturally, of particular interest; the interplay between Monk's idiosyncratic, spacious playing and Jackson's fluid vibe creates a satisfying tension. Early versions of Monk classics, including "Misterioso" and "Epistrophy," are included, with Jackson's cool vibraphone coloring Monk's angular compositions. In addition, the straight phrasing and wide vibrato of vocalist Kenny "Pancho" Hagood appear on "I Should Care" and "All the Things You Are." An excellent sampler of Bags's formidable skills in two contexts, this collection is a must for fans of Jackson or any of the artists involved.


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