Miles Davis / Milt Jackson

Miles Davis and Milt Jackson Quintet/Sextet

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Less heralded than their collaboration with Thelonious Monk (as documented on Bags' Groove and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants), this August 5, 1955 session with vibraphonist Milt Jackson was Davis' last all-star collaboration before the formation of his first classic quintet. It marked a farewell to an older generation of acolytes and fellow travelers; Davis was entering a new era of leadership and international stardom, and generally he would only record with his working groups. Quintet/Sextet is notable for two compositions by Jackie McLean: "Dr. Jackle" and "Minor March" (it appears on his famous 1959 Blue Note date New Soil as "Minor Apprehension"). The former is a Charlie Parker-ish line featuring a masterful Milt Jackson symposium on the blues -- Davis' typically lyric approach, a tart, spacious flight from McLean, and a soulful, dancing Ray Bryant. The latter is a mysterious minor figure with jabbing rhythm breaks and a joyous bridge that recalls "Tempus Fugit." McLean's vaulting cadences and fervent cry anticipate the rapture of his mature style, and Bryant takes a harmonically adventuresome solo. Elsewhere, the group digs into the Bud Powell-like changes of Ray Bryant's low, slow "Changes" (over the rock-solid groove of Percy Heath and Art Taylor), and the quirky harmonies and angular melodies of Thad Jones' "Bitty Ditty." "Changes" inspires a lovely muted statement from Davis, and illustrates Bryant's unique blend of blues, sanctified gospel, and bebop. Davis and Jackson combine for pungent voicings on the head to "Bitty Ditty," then demonstrate their elegant mastery of harmony and swing. Both are inspired by the shape of Jones' line, and are completely unfazed by its intricacies.

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