Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra / Milt Jackson

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Explosive! Review

by Scott Yanow

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.

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