Milt Jackson & Ray Brown '77

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Milt Jackson and Ray Brown
Milt Jackson & Ray Brown '77
Eagle Vision

The combination of Norman Granz and the Montreux Jazz Festival was a strong one. The music that Granz presented at the festival had some top notch performers. Several of the concerts are now available as part of the Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux series on DVD. There are several releases, among them performances by Mary Lou Williams, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Ray Bryant and Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. All have been restored and remastered.

Milt Jackson and Ray Brown took the stage on July 13, 1977 with Clark Terry on trumpet and flugelhorn, Monty Alexander on piano, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on tenor saxophone and Jimmie Smith on drums. And what an exemplary band it was! The music is electrifying, zapped by the rapport between them. There is an unmitigated joy in their playing, the passion kneaded by their virtuosity. Jackson rings the bell with his clean notes, unhurried yet filled with a rich resonance. And if Brown was of the opinion that too many notes spoilt the adventure, he shows precisely how economy can make a song sizzle. And there is Terry, often happy as is his wont, blowing some mean wah wah trumpet on "Red Top." When Davis goes into his cutting-edge solo, Jackson goes over, whispers and returns grinning ear to ear. In that closeness comes a harmony which can only go towards creating a strong emotional core. If there is one player who brings in resplendence with a chockfull of notes, it is Alexander. He is in constant ferment with thick juicy layers and emphatic chords and a nice imagination that at one time sees him invest some calypso in "You Are My Sunshine." Smith keeps the rhythm ticking, ever sensitive. In one of the many interesting camera angles, his right hand is in close cleave with Brown's conceptualization. Attention pays dividends.

There was magic in the air that night in Montreux and it is worth experiencing every moment.

Extras on the DVD come in the form of a presentation from Nat Hentoff and a short profile of Granz, drawings by David Stone Martin and photographs by Georges Braunschweig. One little error: when the pictures of the musicians come up during Hentoff's narration, Brown is identified as Alexander.

Track Listing: Slippery; Beautiful Friendship; Red Top; Mean to Me; You Are My Sunshine

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