Milt Jackson & Ray Brown, circa 1946-48 (photo : William P. Gottlieb)
Milton "Milt" Jackson dit aussi "Bags" a forgé son style à l'écoute des boppers tout en restant proche de l'esprit du blues et des gospels. Il fut le premier vibraphoniste à jouerdans le style be bop.
Il est découvert par Dizzy Gillespie en 1946 qui lui offre une place dans son sextet. Milt acquiert rapidement une solide expérience en jouant avec les plus grandes figures du jazz de l'époque : John Coltrane, Woody Herman, Howard McGhee, Thelonious Monk, et Charlie Parker. Dans le Big band de Gillespie, il joue en quartet avec John Lewis, Percy Heath, et Kenny Clarke quand lasection cuivre prend des pauses. Ce groupe deviendra le Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) qui suivra une belle et longue carrière indépendante de 20 ans jusqu'en 1974 (en attendant la reformation en 1981).
Milt joue pendant ce temps avec de nombreuses petites formations. Il enregistre notamment pour Norman Granz's Pablo Records sur "Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company" (1983) ; avec Jackson, J.J.Johnson au trombone, Ray Brown à la basse, Tom Ranier au piano, le guitariste John Collins, et le batteur Roy McCurdy.
Il est aussi invité par beaucoup d'artistes de jazz, blues et soul, par exemple B. B. King, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, etc… Sa composition Bags' Groove ("Bags" c'est son surnom, qui vient des poches sous ses yeux quand il arrive en retard) est devenu un standard de jazz.
Milton"Bags" Jackson (January 1, 1923 - October 9, 1999) was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is especially remembered for his coolly swinging solos as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet and his penchant for collaborating with several hard bop and post-bop players.
A very expressive player, Jackson differentiated himselffrom other vibraphonists in his attention to variations on harmonics and rhythm. He was particularly fond of the 12-bar blues at slow tempos. He preferred to set the vibraphone's oscillator to a low 3.3 revolutions per second (as opposed to Lionel Hampton's speed of 10 revolutions per second) for a more subtle vibrato. On occasion, Jackson would also sing and play piano professionally.
He wasdiscovered by Dizzy Gillespie, who hired him for his sextet in 1946 and also kept him for larger ensembles. He quickly acquired experience working with the most important figures in jazz of the era, including Woody Herman, Howard McGhee, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker.
In the Gillespie big band, Jackson fell into a pattern that led to the founding of the Modern Jazz Quartet: Gillespiemaintained a former swing tradition of a small group within a big band, and his included Jackson, pianist John Lewis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Kenny Clarke (the arguable pioneer of the ride cymbal timekeeping that became the signature for bop and most jazz to follow) while the brass and reeds took breaks. When they decided to become a working group in their own right around 1950, the foursome wasknown at first as the Milt Jackson Quartet, becoming the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952, by which time Percy Heath had replaced Ray Brown.
Known at first for featuring Jackson's blues-heavy improvisations almost exclusively, the group came in time to split the difference between that and Lewis's more ambitious musical ideas (Lewis had become the group's musical director by 1955, the year Clarkedeparted in favour of Connie Kay), boiling the quartet down to a chamber jazz style that highlighted the lyrical tension between Lewis's mannered but roomy compositions (as committed as he was to formalising the group's style, Lewis always left room enough for improvisation, whether his own spare piano style or Jackson's bluesy style) and Jackson's unapologetic swing.
The MJQ had a long independent...