Milt Jackson

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Milt Jackson, New York, around 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Milton "Milt" Jackson (born  January 1, 1923 in Detroit , Michigan , †  October 9, 1999 in New York City , New York) was an American vibraphonist and is considered one of the most important personalities in modern jazz .


Jackson, who graduated from Miller High School in Chicago, played the piano there , as well as violin and timpani in the school orchestra, drummed in the marching band , was guitarist in the school dance orchestra and also sang in the gospel choir. In 1939 he was made aware of the vibraphone by a teacher and developed its own warm sound on the instrument. Then he studied music at Michigan State College . He came to New York through Dizzy Gillespie , who discovered him at a jam session in 1944 and accepted him into his sextet in 1946. He quickly gained experience working with the most important figures in jazz at the time, including Dinah Washington , Lucky Thompson , Howard McGhee , Coleman Hawkins , Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk . It was most notably Jackson's play at the legendary Blue Note Session on July 8, 1948, published under the title Genius of Modern Music , when he played with titles like "I Should Care", "Evidence", "Misterioso", "Epistrophy" and "I Mean You" recorded classics with Monk that made him famous.

From 1949 to 1950 he played with Woody Herman and then worked again with Gillespie in his Dizzy Gillespie Big Band . The orchestra's then rhythm section was he, John Lewis , Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke . This group first formed the Milt Jackson Quartet (but with bassist Ray Brown ), from which the Modern Jazz Quartet emerged in 1952 as a cooperative band . Jackson played with him until his dissolution in 1974 and after his re-establishment (1981 to 1993). His participation in the December 1954 concert with Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis , which was released on the Davis records Bags Groove and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants , was also legendary . In 1955 the prestige album Miles Davis and Milt Jackson Quintet / Sextet with Jackie McLean and Ray Bryant was created with an All Star line -up . In 1956 he worked on Quincy Jones ' debut album This Is How I Feel About Jazz . In 1957 he became a lecturer at the Lenox School of Jazz and worked on John Lewis' score for Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) with. He can also be heard on BB King and Ray Charles records .

Between 1975 and 1985 Jackson made records for Pablo Records by Norman Granz with Gillespie and Oscar Peterson , but also "Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company" (with JJ Johnson , Ray Brown and pianist Tom Ranier, guitarist John Collins and drummer Roy McCurdy , 1983) recorded.

Milt Jackson at Parnell's Jazz Club, Seattle, WA, about 1980


Jackson was the first vibraphonist in bebop and has long remained one of the leading instrumentalists on this instrument in modern jazz. His ability is shown in the confident melodic mastery of complex chord passages.

His 1952 composition Bags' Groove ("Bags" was his nickname because of his slightly drooping cheeks) has become a jazz standard . Milt Jackson's 1952 album Wizard of the Vibes (with Thelonious Monk on piano) was the first 20 cm LP on the Blue Note Records label .

Selection discography

  • Wizard of the Vibes (Blue Note, 1948–52) with Thelonious Monk, John Lewis, Percy Heath
  • Plenty, Plenty Soul (Atlantic, 1957) with Frank Foster, Cannonball Adderley, Sahib Shihab, Joe Newman, Horace Silver, Percy Heath, Oscar Pettiford, Art Blakey, Connie Kay and others
  • Bags & Trane (Atlantic, 1959) with John Coltrane, Hank Jones, Paul Chambers, Conny Kay
  • Bags Meets Wes (OJC, 1961) with Wes Montgomery, Wynton Kelly
  • Milt Jackson & Count Basie & The Big Band Volume 1 & 2 (OJC, 1978)
  • Ain't But a Few of Us Left (Pablo, 1981) with Oscar Peterson, Grady Tate, Ray Brown
  • It Don't Mean A Thing If You Can't Tap Your Foot To It (OJC, 1984) with Cedar Walton, Ray Brown
  • Explosive! (Qwest / Warner, 1993)

Web links


Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Jürgen Schaal Milt Jackson The Singing Vibes (2003)
  2. Natalie Weiner: Blue Note's High Notes: The Jazz Label Celebrates 80 Years on Billboard (accessed March 29, 2019)