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Milt Jackson: In A New Setting

Douglas Payne By

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For someone like Milt Jackson to declare this a new setting is really saying something. After all, the ageless vibraphonist has recorded in countless small groups capable of any style as well as in big bands, with strings, as a vocalist and as a guitarist too. What's new in this recently reissued 1964 quintet session is the surprising - and surprisingly complimentary - addition of pianist McCoy Tyner (who recorded A Love Supreme the same month).The rest of the group is more familiar to Jackson and includes the marvelous tenor of Jimmy Heath, Bob Cranshaw on bass and MJQ drummer Connie Kay. The other news is that most of the one dozen songs included here are in the three-minute range — all intended for radio play. Jackson has always been one of music's great communicators. But here, on the first of his three Limelight sessions during 1964-66, Jackson is proudly aiming to be heard by more people. Unfortunately, none of these songs ever became a hit. Still, all of tracks are all tremendously catchy and still achieve a high level of easily appreciated musicianship, most especially evident from the leader, Tyner and Heath.

The program is a typical Jackson menu of blues, ballads and a bit of bop with a higher than average content of originals: five by Jackson including the marvelous "Sonny's Blues" and "Clay's Blues," two by Heath, including his near-perfect, near-standard "Project-S" (offering one of the pianist's catchiest-ever solos) and Tyner's interesting "Spanish Fly." Verve's CD release of In A New Setting is packaged in a terrific cardboard case with original, hipodelic cover art well in tact, similar to other releases in the excellent Verve By Request series. Unfortunately,though, Limelight's original packaging, featuring heavy vinyl, cardboard covers and arty booklets with unbelievable, colorfield (and 'shapefield' if that's possible) die cuts mounted inside are all gone. Still, the music retains the cutting edge artistry the packaging no longer has and retains its entertainment value long after the first listen.

Tracks:Sonny's Blues; I'm Gonna Laugh You Out Of My Life; Spanish Fly; No Moon At All; Slow Death; Clay's Blues; Lazy Melody; Project-S; Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye; That's In; Ineffable; The Other Half of Me.

Players:Milt Jackson: vibes, arranger; Jimmy Heath: tenor sax, flute, arranger; McCoy Tyner: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Connie Kay: drums.

Title: In A New Setting | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Verve Music Group


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