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

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Bebop - Released January 21, 2011 | Masterworks Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Fantasy Records

Milt Jackson was 38 when, in December 1961, he co-led this superb hard-bop date with the distinctive guitarist Wes Montgomery. A jazzman who was as opinionated as he was gifted, Jackson wouldn't hesitate to tell you exactly what he thought of a musician -- so when he praised Montgomery, you knew his praise was genuine. Not surprisingly, the boppers prove to be quite compatible on Bags Meets Wes, which finds them co-leading an all star-quintet that also includes pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones (who shouldn't be confused with swing drummer Jo Jones). Although Jackson and Montgomery prove what lyrical ballad players they could be on the standard "Stairway to the Stars," ballads aren't a high priority on this album. Instead, the improvisers put more of their energy into the blues -- and the 12-bar format serves them well on "Sam Sack," "Blue Roz," and "S.K.J." Equally strong are hard-swinging versions of Montgomery's "Jingles" and Benny Golson's "Stablemates." © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 12, 1989 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

This CD presents two complete sessions led by vibraphonist Milt Jackson: one where the eventual members of the Modern Jazz Quartet are joined by saxophonist Lou Donaldson, and eight quartet tracks with Thelonious Monk. (The session with Monk is also on the four-CD set The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Monk's output between 1947 and 1952.) The July 2, 1948, date with Monk was recorded eight months after the pianist's first recordings as a leader. Jackson, responding to the demands of Monk's music with his customary fluid grace, is key to these definitive early recordings of "Evidence," "Misterioso," "Epistrophy," and "I Mean You." Kenny Hagood -- perhaps best known as the vocalist who sang "Darn That Dream" on Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool -- joins the group on two standards. Hagood impresses as he croons unperturbed over Monk and Jackson, whose busy, intertwining lines make for a pleasantly bizarre accompaniment. The April 7, 1952, date with Donaldson does not have the impact of the tracks with Monk. Donaldson's uncomplicated bop is mildly diverting, but it's the consistently brilliant Jackson who commands the listener's attention. Donaldson lays out on four tracks, including the two takes of the set's highlight, Jackson's "Lillie." Here the vibraphonist effortlessly weaves 16th notes across the ballad's accompaniment by his future MJQ partners. As always, it's not Jackson's speed that impresses, it's his taste, musicianship, and artistry. © Jim Todd /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Pablo

This set features a notable pianoless combo: vibraphonist Milt Jackson, guitarist Joe Pass, and bassist Ray Brown. These three masterful players recorded together in many settings during the Pablo years, but only this once as a trio. The colorful repertoire -- ranging from "The Pink Panther" and "Blue Bossa" to "Nuages" and "Come Sunday" -- acts as a device for the musicians to construct some brilliant bop-based solos. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Concord Records

The quartet that went by the name "Quadrant" (guitarist Joe Pass, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Mickey Roker) recorded two albums for Pablo; this one has not been reissued on CD yet. For this project, the group plays nine Duke Ellington compositions, Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train," and Juan Tizol's "Caravan." The four masterful musicians play up to their potential; the interplay and blend between Jackson and Pass is appealing, and there are a fair share of exciting moments on the respectful and swinging set. Highlights include "Caravan," "Mood Indigo," "Main Stem" and "Rocks In My Bed." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1983 | Fantasy Records

Despite the pessimistic title, all of the members of this particular quartet (vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Grady Tate) were still active into the mid-'90s. The music is unsurprising but still quite enjoyable and virtuosic as Bags and Co. perform blues, standards and ballads with their usual swing and bop-based creativity. Highlights include the title cut, "Stuffy," "What Am I Here For" and a vibes-piano duo version of "A Time for Love." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside

Milt Jackson was 38 when, in December 1961, he co-led this superb hard-bop date with the distinctive guitarist Wes Montgomery. A jazzman who was as opinionated as he was gifted, Jackson wouldn't hesitate to tell you exactly what he thought of a musician -- so when he praised Montgomery, you knew his praise was genuine. Not surprisingly, the boppers prove to be quite compatible on Bags Meets Wes, which finds them co-leading an all star-quintet that also includes pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones (who shouldn't be confused with swing drummer Jo Jones). Although Jackson and Montgomery prove what lyrical ballad players they could be on the standard "Stairway to the Stars," ballads aren't a high priority on this album. Instead, the improvisers put more of their energy into the blues -- and the 12-bar format serves them well on "Sam Sack," "Blue Roz," and "S.K.J." Equally strong are hard-swinging versions of Montgomery's "Jingles" and Benny Golson's "Stablemates." © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Fantasy Records

This set from the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival was very much a spontaneous jam session. Flugelhornist Clark Terry, who happened to be in town early, was added to vibraphonist Milt Jackson's group at the last moment. When players the caliber of Terry, tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, pianist Monty Alexander, bassist Ray Brown, drummer Jimmie Smith and Jackson get together, one does not have to worry about the lack of rehearsal time. The sextet romps happily through Brown's "Slippery," "A Beautiful Friendship," "Mean to Me," "You Are My Sunshine," the CD's bonus cut "That's The Way It Is" and "C.M.J."; both Terry and Jackson have humorous vocals on the latter. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Verve

Verve's "'Round Midnight" CD reissue series is comprised of samplers featuring various artists playing ballads at moderate tempoes. Vibraphonist Milt Jackson is heard on this 16-song collection in a variety of settings originally put out on five LPs: Much In Common, Ray Brown-Milt Jackson, And the Hip String Quartet, In a New Setting and Born Free. The former two sets have been reissued on CD, but the latter three have not reappeared yet. Jackson is featured with a big band that he co-led with bassist Ray Brown and in combos that include such fine players as pianists Hank Jones, Cedar Walton and McCoy Tyner, guitarist Kenny Burrell and tenorman Jimmy Heath. The set overall is not as essential as the complete sessions, but gives a nice overview of the vibraphonist's lyrical talents. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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R&B - Released April 8, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1969 | GRP

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Jazz - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released June 1, 1974 | Epic - Legacy

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Jazz - Released February 12, 1999 | Qwest

This is such a logical combination. When vibraphonist Milt Jackson and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra appeared together at the Jazz Bakery near Los Angeles during the same period as this CD was recorded, Jackson (who usually frowns when he plays) could not stop smiling. He loved both John Clayton's arrangements and the sound of the 19-piece orchestra. Jackson, a major voice on his instrument since at least 1946, seemed as happy listening to the band as he did playing with it. And although he has the most solos, he does not overshadow the mighty ensemble on this CD. Longtime fans of the big band are used to hearing the orchestra feature drummer Jeff Hamilton's brushes on a slow rendition of "Indiana," and both the bowed bass of John Clayton and the lyrical alto of Jeff Clayton on Johnny Mandel's classic "Emily." Both of those selections are give definitive treatment on this CD and some of the other better numbers are Jackson's trademark "Bags' Groove," Thelonious Monk's "Evidence," "Along Came Betty," and a few originals. Throughout, the swinging by the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra is worthy of Count Basie, Milt Jackson often sounds exuberant, and together they have collaborated in creating an instant classic. © Scott Yanow /TiVo