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Bebop - Released January 21, 2011 | Masterworks Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1952 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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The music on Wizard of the Vibes features Milt Jackson with the Thelonious Monk Quartet in a 1948 session combined with a 1952 date with his bandmates from the Modern Jazz Quartet (at that time including John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke) along with alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who was oddly credited as the leader of the date on the original release, though it clearly seems to be Jackson in charge. The chemistry between Jackson and Monk on classics like "Misterioso," "Evidence," "I Mean You," and "Epistrophy" is immediately apparent, although Kenny "Pancho" Hagood's vocals on the standards "All the Things You Are" and "I Should Care" remain an acquired taste. Jackson introduces three originals on the latter session, including the debut of his highly acclaimed "Bag's Groove," which has long since become one of the most celebrated and popular jazz compositions. Lewis' uncanny musical ESP is evident throughout the session, as he feeds Jackson imaginative lines for his improvisations. Donaldson is enjoyable at times but doesn't always play at a level equal to the rhythm section, resorting to rather run-of-the-mill ideas in some of his improvisations. Milt Jackson's inventive playing throughout both dates makes this an important CD in his considerable discography, so it should be a part of any bop fan's collection. ~ Ken Dryden
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1952 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Fantasy Records

Pianist Monty Alexander had first appeared on a Milt Jackson record in 1969. Eight years later the great vibraphonist used Alexander's trio (which included bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, future big-band co-leaders) for this spirited Pablo session that was subsequently reissued on CD through Original Jazz Classics. Much of the material is obscure (including Jackson's three originals), with Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" being the only standard. The music, however, is as straight-ahead as one would expect from these fine musicians, and can easily be recommended to their fans. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Fantasy Records

This double album features vibraphonist Milt Jackson with some of his best musical friends (tenor-saxophonist Teddy Edwards, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Billy Higgins) for a typically swinging set of standards. It is particularly welcome to hear the underrated Edwards in this setting and all of the musicians are in top form on such superior songs as "Killer Joe," "St. Thomas," "Bolivia" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Blue Note Records

The music on Wizard of the Vibes features Milt Jackson with the Thelonious Monk Quartet in a 1948 session combined with a 1952 date with his bandmates from the Modern Jazz Quartet (at that time including John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke) along with alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who was oddly credited as the leader of the date on the original release, though it clearly seems to be Jackson in charge. The chemistry between Jackson and Monk on classics like "Misterioso," "Evidence," "I Mean You," and "Epistrophy" is immediately apparent, although Kenny "Pancho" Hagood's vocals on the standards "All the Things You Are" and "I Should Care" remain an acquired taste. Jackson introduces three originals on the latter session, including the debut of his highly acclaimed "Bag's Groove," which has long since become one of the most celebrated and popular jazz compositions. Lewis' uncanny musical ESP is evident throughout the session, as he feeds Jackson imaginative lines for his improvisations. Donaldson is enjoyable at times but doesn't always play at a level equal to the rhythm section, resorting to rather run-of-the-mill ideas in some of his improvisations. Milt Jackson's inventive playing throughout both dates makes this an important CD in his considerable discography, so it should be a part of any bop fan's collection. ~ Ken Dryden
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Pablo

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R&B - Released March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released February 12, 1999 | Qwest

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Jazz - Released April 8, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside

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R&B - Released April 8, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released September 12, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

48 years after he first made a major impression on a Dizzy Gillespie recording date, vibraphonist Milt Jackson proves that he was still at the top of his form on this CD. The straight-ahead date finds his quartet (with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist John Clayton and drummer Billy Higgins) welcoming guests Joshua Redman (whose tenor is on six of the dozen selections) and singer Joe Williams, who helps out on three songs. Redman easily fits into the role that other tenors such as Teddy Edwards and Jimmy Heath have had with Jackson, taking concise solos while allowing the great vibist to be the lead in most of the ensembles. Joe Williams is fine during his three spots, but it is the apparently ageless Milt Jackson who is the main star during this enjoyable set. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1969 | GRP

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Jazz - Released September 2, 1988 | Rhino Atlantic

The music on this Collectables CD certainly lives up to its title. Vibraphonist Milt Jackson welcomes some of his best musical friends, including both veterans and a couple of younger greats including trumpeter Jon Faddis, trombonist J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Heath on tenor, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist John Clayton and drummer Mickey Roker. Together they perform nine classic songs from the bop era with the emphasis on medium and up-tempo workouts. Few surprises occur but the hard-swinging music largely meets one's expectations. [Bebop was also released with a bonus track.] ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 23, 1956 | Savoy

This fine 1956 date features Jackson leading a session that moves with ease and authority through a relaxing eight-minute ride on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time," an Ellington ballad medley, and a pair of the vibist's own blues-based, hard bop compositions. The real treat here is Lucky Thompson's tenor sax. The Don Byas-influenced Thompson has a sound that invites the listener to luxuriate in its grace and strength. Thompson solos on "Mood Indigo" with a sublime, breathy legato, adding bite and rougher edges -- without sacrificing nuance or subtlety -- on Jackson's "Minor Conception" and "Soul in 3/4." For his part, Jackson reels off a fluid stream of shifting, seamless, advanced blues -- his time, phrasing, and execution all exquisite. In the rhythm section, Hank Jones (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums) support with the ego-free artistry expected of the Savoy house band of the day. Jackson's Ville is one of four Savoy CDs that pair Jackson with Thompson. The others are The Jazz Skyline, Roll 'em Bags, and Meet Milt Jackson. Each on its own is short measure (Jackson's Ville clocks in at 30 minutes). As a collection, though, they comprise a vital document that sits nicely alongside Jackson's and Thompson's work with Miles Davis from this period. ~ Jim Todd
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Bebop - Released January 11, 2011 | SendDigital