Milt Jackson: Things are Getting Better; Bags Meets Wes


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Milt "Bags Jackson gained international notoriety as the vibraphonist and co-leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet, in which setting his rich and warm sense of the blues, his solid swing and his mastery of technique on his instrument provided a somewhat more animated complement to the slightly more delicate and ethereal playing of pianist John Lewis (though it must be said that Lewis could swing and dig into the blues with the best of them!). These qualities enabled Jackson to work in many different settings and two of his most successful recorded outings (for Riverside) have now been re-issued in Fantasy's great 20-Bit series.

Cannonball Adderley/Milt Jackson
Things are Getting Better
2004 (Reissued)

Blues is certainly the foundation on both of these recordings, as can be heard immediately on Things Are Getting Better. Bags' "Blues Oriental is a 5-minute blues with colors suggested by its name. Jackson is first up and delivers a short and sweet lesson in the elegance and eloquence of the form. And what a rhythm section - with the tasteful and swinging Wynton Kelly (with whom Cannonball Adderley was to play in the Miles Davis Prestige group), MJQ bassist Percy Heath and the ubiquitous Art Blakey who could brighten any session. Cannonball and Bags, though both strong and individual leaders, never step on each other's toes. And as a bonus, Orrin Keepnews (producer of the original LP and subsequent re-issues) has included several alternate takes.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery
Bags Meets Wes
Original Jazz Classics
1991 (Reissued)

Bags' pairing with Wes Montgomery is another match made in heaven. Wes essentially recreated the jazz guitar with his unique lines and chording. And again, when you have Milt Jackson what you get is that wonderful no nonsense sound, steeped in the blues and all about simple uncluttered expression. Here is Wynton Kelly again showing why he was the pianist of choice for so many. Sam Jones (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums) complete what was essentially the Riverside house rhythm section.

Jackson and Montgomery contributed originals and the band also tackles Benny Golson's celebrated "Stablemates and the standards "Delilah (by Victor Young) and "Stairway to the Stars . Both of the leaders/soloists are beautifully communicative on the sensitive, slow ballads and then also on the more up-tempo numbers. "Delilah is altogether as alluring and beautiful as she was in the famous Clifford Brown-Max Roach version, brought into the light here by the exquisite string bass work of Sam Jones.

Again there are alternate take bonus tracks, offering fascinating glimpses into the recording process and the role of the producer. And note must be made on both of these incredible recordings of the incredible re-mastering. Never have these instruments sounded so clean and beautiful, allowing even further testament to the artists' expressive capabilities.

Things are Getting Better

Tracks: 1 Blues Oriental Jackson 5:03; 2 Things Are Getting Better Adderley, Langdon 7:13; 3 Serves Me Right [Take 5] Johnson 4:48; 4 Serves Me Right [*] Johnson 4:38; 5 Groovin' High Gillespie 5:23; 6 The Sidewalks of New York [Take 5] Blake, Lawlor 7:00; 7 The Sidewalks of New York [*] Blake, Lawlor 5:15; 8 Sounds for Sid Adderley 6:27; 9 Just One of Those Things Porter 6:45

Personnel: Cannonball Adderley: Alto Sax; Art Blakey: Drums; Percy Heath: Bass; Milt Jackson: Vibraphone; Wynton Kelly: Piano

Bags Meets Wes

Tracks: 1 S.K.J. Jackson 5:16; 2 Stablemates Golson 5:48; 3 Stairway to the Stars [Take 6] Malneck, Parish 3:40; 4 Stairway to the Stars [*] Malneck, Parish, Signorelli 3:47; 5 Blue Roz Montgomery 4:48; 6 Sam Sack Jackson 6:06; 7 Jingels [Take 9] Montgomery 6:56; 8 Jingles [*] Montgomery 6:53; 9 Delilah [Take 4] Young 6:13; 10 Delilah [*] Young 6:18

Personnel: Milt Jackson: Vibraphone; Philly Joe Jones: Drums; Sam Jones: Bass; Wynton Kelly: Piano; Wes Montgomery: Guitar

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