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Milt Jackson

Milt Jackson, fondly known as “Bags”, was born in 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied music at Michigan State University. When he was seven, his first instrument was the guitar, at 11 he played the piano; and played both with considerable skill. As a youth, he was inspired to become a musician by the sounds he heard in the revivalist churches in his hometown; and later began singing in a touring gospel quartet. At the age of 16, he made his first professional engagement playing the vibraphone alongside of Lucky Thompson.

It was Dizzy Gillespie who discovered Jackson playing with a small combo in a Detroit nightclub, and brought him to New York in 1945. After working and recording with Gillespie, and catching the ear of the jazz world with his scintillating solo work, Jackson settled down to free-lance playing and recording in New York. During 1948-9, he went back on the road with Howard McGhee, and then joined the great pianist-arranger Tadd Dameron at the Royal Roast in a memorable band that included Fats Navarro, Allan Eager and Kenny Clarke. Soon thereafter, he worked with Thelonious Monk, with whom he established a musical rapport that is one of the marvels of modern jazz. In 1949, Jackson replaced Terry Gibbs in the second herd of Woody Herman’s band, remaining until he re-joined Dizzy Gillespie in 1950. He stayed with Dizzy for two years, doubling as pianist and occasional vocalist.

1953 was a crucial date in Jackson’s career. In that year, he joined forces with John Lewis, drummer Kenny Clarke, and bassist Percy Heath, all members of Gillespie’s band, to make some recordings in 1951-2. The new recordings were issued under Jackson’s name, and represented the birth of the Modern Jazz Quartet. It was not until early 1954, however, that the MJQ was established as a permanent group. In 1955, Connie Kay replaced Clarke as the drummer. With the MJQ, Jackson discovered new possibilities in his instrument, influencing every musician who took up the vibraphone in his wake. He soon became the undisputed master of the modern jazz vibraphone. While playing with the MJQ, Jackson became an indispensable part of their sound. The MJQ became one of the most successful jazz groups in the fifties and sixties, playing mainly in concert and sometimes in select clubs in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

He recorded regularly as leader (including dates in 1950s with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane and Ray Charles), and formed his own Quintet that included Cedar Walton, Jimmy Heath and James Moody. He also championed guitarist Wes Montgomery and recorded with him in 1961. While playing with the MJQ, Jackson became frustrated and broke up the group in 1974. After a seven-year hiatus, the MJQ came back in 1981. In addition to the MJQ recordings, Jackson cut many records as a leader on various labels. Throughout his career, Jackson composed close to 100 compositions, including the ever-swinging jazz standard “Bag’s Groove”. For over 40 years, he consistently won the Down Beat readers’ and critics’ poll, and is the only artist to compile such a record.

As a vibraphonist, Milt Jackson had few equals and no peers. His style is characterized by a superbly relaxed sense of time and swing, a deep feeling for blues, a great gift for melodic improvisation, and subtle lyrical grace. His tone is silvery and shimmering. He was the master of ballad interpretation, but no less accomplished in a swinging blues groove. A quiet, soft-spoken man with a wholly unpretentious manner, he was universally loved and respected in the world of music. He died of liver cancer on October 9, 1999, at the age of 76.


Click on titles for more info.
Title Category Score Parts Time Listen
Bag's Guitar Blues - ** - ** -
Bag's New Groove - 50.00 incl. **
MP3
Bags and Strings - ** - ** -
Bags and Trane - ** - ** -
Bags of Blues - ** - ** -
Beautiful Romance, A - ** - ** -
Bells and Horns - ** - ** -
Big George - ** - ** -
Blues (Jazz) Bossa-Nova - ** - ** -
Blues for Diahann - ** - ** -
Blues for Juanita - ** - ** -
Blues In C Minor - ** - ** -
Blues In H (B) - ** - ** -
Blues Legacy - ** - ** -
Bossa Bags - ** - **
MP3
Bright Blues - ** - **
MP3
Cancel Out - ** - ** -
Chyrise - ** - ** -
Clay's Blues - ** - ** -
Connie's Blues - ** - **
MP3
Cylinder, The - ** - **
MP3
Echoes - ** - **
MP3
Enchanted Lady - ** - ** -
Extraordinary Blues (a.k.a. Monterey Mist) - ** - **
MP3
Gerry's Blues - ** - **
MP3
Ginko Tree - ** - ** -
Heartstrings - ** - **
MP3
Hello - ** - ** -
Ignunt Oil - ** - **
MP3
Indian Blues - ** - ** -
Late, Late Blues, The - ** - **
MP3
Lazy Melody - ** - ** -
Legendary Profile, The - ** - ** -
Let Me Hear The Blues - ** - **
MP3
Lillie - ** - **
MP3
Martyr, The - ** - **
MP3
Melancholy Blues - ** - **
MP3
Memphis Junction - ** - ** -
Metal Melter, The - ** - ** -
Midget Rod - ** - **
MP3
Minor Love - ** - ** -
Montelei - ** - ** -
Monterey Mist (a.k.a. Extraordinary Blues) - ** - **
MP3
Namesake - ** - **
MP3
Night Of No Respect, A - ** - ** -
Novamo - ** - ** -
Poom-A-Loom - ** - **
MP3
Putoff, The - ** - ** -
Ralph's New Blues - ** - **
MP3
Re-Rev - ** - ** -
Really True Blues - ** - **
MP3
Reunion Blues - ** - **
MP3
Rock Minor - ** - ** -
S K J - ** - **
MP3
Sam Sack - ** - **
MP3
Sandra's Blues - ** - ** -
Sandy - ** - **
MP3
Sealer, The - ** - **
MP3
Slow Death - ** - **
MP3
Some Kinda Waltz - ** - ** -
Sonny's Blues - ** - ** -
Soul At Sunrise - ** - ** -
Soul Brothers - ** - ** -
Soul Meeting - ** - ** -
Special Blues - ** - ** -
Spirit Feel, The - ** - ** -
Statements - ** - ** -
Steel Bender, The - ** - ** -
Tahiti - ** - ** -
That's In - ** - ** -
Thrill From The Blues, A - ** - ** -
Tomorrow - ** - **
MP3
Tomorrow (Lyric Edition) - ** - ** -
Vibrations - ** - **
MP3
Whalepool - ** - ** -

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