For all us John Coltrane aficionados, his pairing with ace vibes man and Modern Jazz Quartet stalwart, Milt Jackson, might represent (primarily) another impressive Trane recording, but Jackson’s contribution here should not be underestimated. Jackson’s playing adds an infectious smooth, swinging (and, sound-wise of course, relatively unusual) vibe, plus the man contributes two of the album’s outstanding compositions in the title tune and The Late Late Blues. Interestingly, even though the album was finally released in mid-1961, it was recorded (in January 1959) only a couple of months before the legendary Kind Of Blue and, stylistically, Coltrane’s playing here is throughout, and particularly on the two aforementioned Jackson compositions, reminiscent of the Davis session, the man excelling with his liquid, sheets of sound technique. And, to further draw comparisons with Kind Of Blue, here we also have Paul Chambers on bass, whose rolling playing is mixed nicely 'up-front’, and who, with Hank Jones on piano and MJQ-man Connie Kay on drums, makes up an outstanding quintet.
Another impressive rendition here is that of Dizzy Gillespie’s Bebop, the band going at a blistering pace and the co-leaders each delivering superbly dynamic solos. In fact, some of Coltrane’s riffs on Bebop are reminiscent of his playing on Giant Steps, another masterpiece recorded later in 1959! The 1988 reissue CD is also well worth seeking out as it additionally gives you the beautiful cover of the Malneck/Signorelli ballad, Stairway To The Stars, another intoxicating, swinging blues in Jackson’s Blues Legacy and the infectious hook of Harry Edison’s jazz standard Centerpiece. In summary, no matter which ‘artist camp’ you may have your foot in, it all adds up to another essential album for the collection.
Is this the most underrated album in the history of jazz? Bags (Milt Jackson) is in effortlessly sublime form as usual, and Trane (John Coltrane) is just about to become the biggest new star in the jazz world. He's full on, but not over the top – and on this disc you get the first recording of his famed 'Coltrane Changes'. OK, sometimes he sounds like he's playing in an attic, but that just adds to the authentic atmosphere and drags you willingly to the smoky backstreets of 50s New York. Home from work? Got a lady over? Cocktail party? Stick this on - they don't come cooler.
An unusual album from Milt Jackson and John Coltrane who you wouldn't expect to be playing with each other. Recorded in 1959 this was made just before 'Giant Steps', but its completely different from that classic album.
With Jackson alongside Coltrane the whole album takes a much more bluesy turn especially when Jackson is playing, and indeed there a couple of blues tracks on the album. So when you hear Jackson on these tracks its the same Jackson who played with the MJQ and made a number of great albums with Oscar Peterson. However, Coltrane was pushing the boundaries at this stage, so the contrast between his solo on say 'The Late Late Blues' and Jackson's is quite dramatic.
The supporting cast is, as you would expect top notch. On drums is Connie Kay, Bass is Paul Chambers and Piano is Hank Jones.
My favourite track is 'Be-Bop', a Dizzy Gillespie tune taken at a frightningly fast tempo, on which Jackson swings through his solo with amazing panache and Coltrane (obviously in practise for things to come) just blasts through the chord sequence like it was a 12 bar (which its not).
A great album that improves everytime you listen to it.
When this record first came out it didn't get very good reviews. It was thought to be fairly sub-standard Coltrane, playing without his usual force, and with a rhythm section that didn't give him adequate support. In fact, it is a very good record indeed. The problem may have been that it was recorded just before 'Giant Steps' but not released until some time later, by which time a sea change had taken place in Coltrane's style and he just wasn't playing this way any more. He made much fine music before that change and this disc fits well into that body of work. Trane plays throughout with an easy loping swing. He was always a superb ballad player and excels on 'Stairway To The Stars' and 'The Night We Called It A Day'. He unleashes his formidable technique on the fast 'Be-Bop' and plays convincingly in a bluesy manner on the remaining tunes, not all of which are blues. The blues feel to the disc comes mainly from Milt Jackson, who was always a master of that style. He plays well throughout and there is little point in singling out individual tracks. Hank Jones is his usual impeccable self and Paul Chambers a tower of rhythmic strength on bass. Connie Kay suffered some flack when this was first issued but plays well, lightly swinging and punctuating rarely but always to the point. There are better Trane records around, such as 'Blue Trane', but this is a pleasing example of his work pre 'Giant Steps' and the other four musicians can hardly be bettered, individually or together.
I already have this CD in the Atlantic re-release. The CD didn't play very well on my laptop so I decided to purchase this one. It arrived on time promptly - very good ! However, the information on the cover insert and the outer cover was all in CHINESE !! Fortunately the Atlantic CD insert has all the information in English. So lucky me .... However, the music content, in my opinion, is quality. Having seen both of these artists live, many moons ago it's good to have these guys on CD. Well worth a buy even if you don't speak Chinese !!!!