The late Oliver Jackson had one foot in each of the major jazz camps, bop and swing. Out of Detroit, he performed with some of the first rate boppers from that city like Tommy Flanagan and Paul Chambers as well as working with Eddie Locke and Yusef Lateef. But he also played with some of the great swingsters and traditional jazzers like Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Shavers and Buck Clayton.
This 1993 live concert was Jackson's last before his death the following year and he is definitely wearing his swing/traditional hat for this one. Heading up a group of expert musicians of the same bent, this album provides more than 70 minutes of pulsating, mostly jam session tempo jazz of the highest caliber. Both in ensemble and as soloists, each member of the group is at the top of his form, almost as if they had a premonition that the fine drummer was not to be around much longer. Whatever the motivation, the concert clearly was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and will be savored by the purchasers of the album. The group consists of veteran players like one of the giants of the English jazz scene, tenor man Danny Moss, pianist Brian Dee and bassist Len Skeat who are whipped together with those from later generations like tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, reedman Antti Sarpila and trumpet player Randy Sandke. For dessert, Moss' wife, vocalist Jeanie Lamb lends her vocal skills to Ann Ronnel's "Willow Weep for Me". All of this is driven by the Sid Catlett like energy of Oliver Jackson's drums.
No one cut stands out above the rest. Each of the tunes runs for enough time so that most or all of the instrumentalists can make their unique statement. One of the few ballads, "What's New", gets a poignant trumpet reading from Sandke, with Dee's light fingered, flittering piano laying down a velvet backdrop. "Stealin' Apples" recalls Jackson's tenure with Benny Goodman, with Antti Sarpilla taking the clarinet solo.
The German label Nagel Heyer continues to release copious quantities of high quality mainstream music played by major jazz performers. This live concert by Oliver Jackson is in keeping with the company's lofty standards and is recommended. See what else this record company to offer at their Internet site,www.nagelheyer.de.
Personnel: Oliver Jackson - Drums/Leader; Randy Sandke - Trumpet; Harry Allen, Danny Moss - Tenor Saxophone; Antti Sarpila - Tenor Saxophone/Clarinet; Jerry Tilitz - Trombone; Brian Dee - Piano; Len Skeat - Bass; Jeanie Lambe - Vocals