Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bopping Again with Milt Jackson

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles decided to reprise this brief tribute to vibraphonist Milt Jackson [1923-1999] for the simple reason that we like having his group's interpretation of Jimmy Heath's Bopag'in available again on these pages.  

Although not widely known, let alone often performed, we think that Jimmy's Bopag'in is a quintessential example of a Bebop tune: "... an active rhythm section spurring on soloists who are adept at extemporizing rapid melodies filled with asymmetrical phrases and ascent patterns [Thomas Owens writing in Barry Kernfeld, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz]."

Perhaps after you listen to it the first time, you can replay it and just concentrate on the bass lines that Christian McBride lays down. They are a superb example of "the walking bass" that propels the Bebop forward.

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Here at JazzProfiles, we often pay homage to the pioneers of Jazz; those individuals who helped shape the music and left a legacy of recordings for the enjoyment of generations to come.

When it comes to playing Jazz on the vibraphone, no one left a bigger footprint that Milt Jackson.  Nicknamed "Bags" because of the noticeable pouches under his eyes, Milt Jackson was the preeminent player on the vibraphone during the second half of the 20th century.

The mere mention of "Bags" around others that played the instrument would bring a wry smile and a gentle shaking of the head in admiration.

Another continuing theme on JazzProfiles has been our effort to highlight the brilliance of many of today's young Jazz players.

This video tribute to Milt does both by honoring the memory of Bags while featuring some of the best talent on today's Jazz scene.

The tune is Bopag'in composed by tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath's about whom the late Dizzy Gillespie said: "If you know Jimmy Heath's music, then you know bebop."

Bags takes the first solo beginning at 0:46, followed by alto saxophonist Jesse Davis at 2:04, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman at 3:23, trumpeter Nicholas Payton at 4:41 and pianist Benny Green at 6:00.

Particularly noteworthy are bassist Christian McBride's stunningly strong bass line [these are easier to hear at the beginning of the solo times listed above]. Kenny Washington's drumming holds it all together while booting things along.

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