Before Milt Jackson, there were only two major vibraphonists: Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo. Jackson soon surpassed both of them in significance and, despite the rise of other players (including Bobby Hutcherson and Gary Burton), still won the popularity polls throughout the decades. Jackson (or "Bags" as he was long called) was at the top of his field for 50 years, playing bop, blues, and ballads with equal skill and sensitivity. In its essence, Jackson did for the vibes what Dizzy Gillespie did for the trumpet -- revolutionize its approach. He slowed the speed on the instrument's oscillator, changed its vibrato and perfected slow, cleverly paced blues solos. His floating solos with long, sustained notes and darting rhythms became a bop staple. A former singer, guitarist and pianist, Jackson was an extremely versatile player, cutting ...
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