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Milt Jackson and John Coltrane: Bags and Trane

30 Jun

Bags and Trane features, as the name may suggest, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and saxophonist John Coltrane in their only collaborative record. Together with Hank Jones on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums, this is a classic hard bop album and showcases both leading musicians to great effect.

One of the defining characteristics of this album is the great respect Bags and Trane show each other. Their solos flow smoothly into each other and their conversations, especially the one in the composition Bags and Trane, are perfect. Despite the quality of their rhythm section, their solos are the thankfully omnipresent highlight of the album. Take for instance the beginning of Late, Late Blues. The bass perfectly sets the base of the song which Milt Jackson then follows and quickly expands into a full blown solo played over the backing of the rhythm. That passage is jazz in its purest form.

The name aside, the album was done with Milt Jackson as session leader and all of the original compositions are his. The result is more relaxed than much of the music John Coltrane was putting out at the time, but that is no way takes away from the quality. This is very clean bebop and though it may be unhurried, it is brilliant.

This is an album that justifies the reputation of the artists who made it and deserves much more notice than it gets. This is an immaculate album, and while it may not be quite the masterpiece that its contemporaries Giant Steps or My Favorite Things are, it is a classic that any jazz fan should be proud to own.

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