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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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MILT JACKSON

Bags of Soul

Properbox 126

 

 

Milt Jackson - Vibes
with Lord Nelson & his Boppers, the Sonny Stitt/Milt Jackson Sextet, and the Milt Jackson Quartet, Quintet, Sextet and Ensemble

Milt Jackson is probably best known as an integral part of the Modern Jazz Quartet, but this compilation concentrates on the recordings he made before the MJQ was formed in late 1952, and later (up to 1956) with other groups. In fact the first disc in this collection includes tracks recorded by the Milt Jackson Quartet with the same (or almost the same) personnel as the MJQ. Tracks 14-17 of the first CD are by Milt with John Lewis on piano, Percy Heath on bass and Kenny Clarke at the drums - the original line-up of the MJQ. These tracks definitely foreshadow the style of the MJQ: a more restrained, even polite, music than Milt Jackson had been making elsewhere with such beboppers as Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt.

As Joop Visser’s sleeve-note says, “Milt Jackson was the first bebop musician to play vibes”. The bebop influence can be heard on many of the tracks in this collection. Third Song, the opening tune on the first CD, is actually a version of Sonny Stitt’s Steeplechase, a bebop standard. The recording sounds as if it was made in a cave but Milt’s bebop influences can be clearly heard in his brief solo. The same applies to the subsequent tracks by a group co-led by Milt and Sonny Stitt. Another feature which marks Milt Jackson out is his fundamental feeling for the blues, which imbues much of his work. This is obvious in tunes like his own composition, Bags’ Groove, where he sounds entirely at home with the simple blues sequence.

On the second CD, it is good to hear Milt in the company of Horace Silver and Frank Wess, although his own playing remains basically unchanged. In fact boredom might set in at this stage if it wasn’t for the varied line-ups and the chance to sample other musicians. Things brighten up on the third disc, where the underrated tenorist Lucky Thompson is featured on all eleven tracks - as well as the first eight of the fourth CD, with the Milt Jackson Quintet or Sextet. Thompson seemed to combine the qualities of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, making for a fascinating soloist.

On the fourth CD, variety is provided by So in Love and the two following tracks, which augment Milt’s sextet with five woodwinds arranged by Ralph Burns. It shows us a different side of Jackson, whose playing is very flowery here, often in double time. The last three tracks on this CD bring in guitarist Barney Kessel, who contributes some subtle chording and solos.

As usual with Properboxes, this set comes with a highly informative booklet including recording details and personnels, photos and track-by-track analysis. It is not without its mistakes - for example, one song is listed as The Songs is Ended! But in general this boxed set is good value (56 tracks for around £13), especially in illustrating some lesser-known sides of Milt Jackson.

Tony Augarde

 

CD1
1. Third Song
2. Red Shoes

3. Bebop Blues
4. Royal Wedding
5. Find and Dandy
6. Milt Meets Sid
7. D & E
8. Yesterdays
9. Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
10. Autumn Breeze
11. Moving Nicely
12. ‘Round About Midnight
13. Bluesology
14. Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
15. Love Me, Pretty Baby
16. Heart and Soul
17. True Blues
18. Tahiti
19. Lillie
20. Bags’ Groove
21. What's New ?
22. On the Scene
23. Opus De Funk

CD2

1. Wonder Why
2. I Should Care
3. My Funny Valentine
4. Stonewall
5. Moonray
6. The Nearness of You
7. Opus De Funk
8. Opus Pocus
9. You Leave Me Breathless
10. Opus And Interlude

CD3

1. Come Rain or Come Shine
2. They Can't Take That Away From Me
3. Wild Man
4. Soulful
5. Fred's Mood
6. Flamingo
7. Bright Blues
8. How High The Moon
9. Lover
10. Can't Help Lovin' That Man
11. The Lady is a Tramp

CD4

1. Angel Face
2. Sometimes I'm Happy
3. Now's The Time
4. Ellington Medley - In a Sentimental Mood/Mood Indigo/Azure
5. Minor Conception
6. Soul In 3/4
7. So In Love
8. They Didn't Believe Me
9. Solitude
10. The Song is Ended
11. Gerry's Blues
12. These Foolish Things

 



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