Milt Jackson

The Art of Milt Jackson/Soul Brothers

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This compilation covers a lot of ground, but still only touches on some of the highlights from Milt Jackson's many recordings for Atlantic. The vibraphonist's extensive, multi-faceted Atlantic catalog includes Jackson with John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, and Ray Charles and with horns, woodwinds, flutes, strings, and a vocal chorus. All these settings are represented on this double CD, which is made up of a best-of package and a 1957 session with the then-26-year-old Charles playing alto sax and alternating with Jackson at the piano. No matter the context, Bags' artistry and fluent musical imagination are constant. Along with Jackson's sophisticated, bluesy bop, this well-programmed release has fine contributions from the aforementioned Hawkins and Coltrane on two tracks apiece; great work from Frank Wess and Bobby Jaspar on flute; and equally great work from Frank Foster, Cannonball Adderley, Sahib Shihab, and Lucky Thompson on saxophones. Charles' serious sax chops on the bluesy "Soul Brothers" date may surprise some listeners, but there's no doubt that he makes a formidable front line with tenor player Billy Mitchell. Guitar fans will also find a feast here -- Kenny Burrell, Barry Galbraith, and Skeeter Best are in the spotlight on several tracks. One minor anomaly: "How Long, How Long Blues" is on each of the discs in this compilation. It's a great track, though, so no big deal.

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