Milt Jackson

Roll 'Em Bags

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This set is from sessions also heard on Savoy's Meet Milt Jackson. Six tracks are from a 1949 sextet with Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Julius Watkins (French horn), Curly Russell (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums); three others are from the excellent 1956 sessions Jackson did with Lucky Thompson (tenor sax), along with Wade Legge (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). On the earlier numbers, the ensemble work is ragged and the soloists -- including the typically inspired Jackson -- turn in workmanlike efforts. Even Clarke's usual crispness and sparkle is absent. Fortunately, half the 34-minute disc is given over to the Jackson/Thompson partnering, starting with a relaxed, amiable reading of "Come Rain or Come Shine." The high points, however, are the Jackson originals "Fred's Mood" and "Wild Man." Although not commonly viewed as a hard bop pioneer, the urbane, bluesy structures that distinguish Jackson's writing at this time, arguably, make him a trailblazer for the movement. Certainly it is the Jackson originals that draw out the best from both the vibist and Thompson on their two January 1956 sessions, the balance of which can be heard on The Jazz Skyline, Jackson's Ville, and Meet Milt Jackson. These are all worth seeking out, although Meet Milt Jackson, like Roll 'Em Bags, also has items of lesser consequence from other sessions.

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