Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson – Things are Getting Better {Riverside}[OJC]

Review by Lindsay Planer (

This title provides ample evidence why Cannonball Adderley (alto sax) is considered one of the masters of his craft. Here he joins forces with Modern Jazz Quartet co-founder Milt Jackson (vibes) to create a variety of sonic atmospheres. They are backed by the all-star ensemble of Wynton Kelly (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and the one and only Art Blakey (drums). The moody “Blues Oriental” opens the set with Jackson immediately diving in with his trademark fluid runs and shimmering intonation. Adderley counters with a light and lively line that weaves between the rhythm section. The optimistic “Things Are Getting Better” is a good-natured romp as the co-leads trade and cajole each other into some downright rollicking exchanges. This directly contrasts with the sultry “Serves Me Right,” which allows the combo members to demonstrate their collective musical malleability. The interaction between Adderley and Jackson sparkles as they entwine their respective playing with an uncanny singularity of spirit. The cover of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Groovin’ High” contains another spirited performance with some thoroughly engaging improvisation, especially during Adderley’s voracious solos. “Sidewalks of New York” bops freely as Jackson unleashes some sublime licks against a hearty and equally boisterous sax. Adderley’s “Sounds for Sid” demonstrates his uncanny ability to swing with a strong R&B vibe. With drop-dead timing and profound instrumental chops, this cut is undoubtedly one of the best from Adderley’s earliest canon. The album concludes with a jumping reading of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things.” While Wynton Kelly has been uniformly solid, his interjections stand out here as he bridges and undergirds the two as they banter with flair and aplomb. When Things Are Getting Better was issued on CD, two bonus tracks supplemented the original seven-song running order. These consist of alternate takes of “Serves Me Right” and “Sidewalks of New York.” In the case of the former, it can be reasonably argued that this outtake might emotively best the version initially chosen as the master. This disc can be recommended without hesitation to all manner of jazz enthusiast, as it quite literally offers something for every taste.

01 – Blues Oriental
02 – Things are Getting Better
03 – Serves Me Right (take 5)
04 – Serves Me Right (take 4)
05 – Groovin’ High
06 – The Sidewalks of New York (take 5)
07 – The Sidewalks of New York (take 4)
08 – Sounds for Sid
09 – Just One of Those Things

Cannonball Adderley – alto saxophone
Milt Jackson – vibes
Wynton Kelly – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Art Blakey – drums

Recorded in New York; October 28, 1958.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, scans

Milt Jackson – It Don’t Mean a Thing If You Can’t Tap Your Foot to It {Pablo}[OJC]

Review by Scott Yanow (

Vibraphonist Milt Jackson’s recording career has been remarkably consistent, and his Pablo recordings of 1975-85 are uniformly excellent. This particular set features his 1984 quartet (a group consisting of pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Mickey Roker) performing four obscure group originals and three standards with swing, subtle creativity and soul. This CD is a good example of Milt Jackson’s enjoyable music.

01 – Midnight Waltz
02 – Ain’t that Nothin’
03 – Stress and Trauma
04 – Used to be Jackson
05 – It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)
06 – If I Were a Bell
07 – Close Enough for Love

Milt Jackson – vibes
Ray Brown – bass
Cedar Walton – piano
Mickey Roker – drums

Recorded at RCA Studios, New York City; July 1984.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson – Very Tall {Verve}[MFSL]

Review by Scott Yanow (

This first matchup on records between pianist Oscar Peterson and vibraphonist Milt Jackson was so logical that it is surprising it did not occur five years earlier. Originally recorded for Verve and three decades later reissued on this audiophile CD by Mobile Fidelity, the quartet set (which also includes bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen) swings as hard as one might expect. Highlights include “On Green Dolphin Street,” “The Work Song,” “John Brown’s Body” (a jam on “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) and “Reunion Blues.” Fortunately O.P. and Bags would meet up on records many times in the future (particularly during their Pablo years) but this first effort is a particularly strong set.

01 – Green Dolphin Street
02 – Heartstrings
03 – The Work Song
04 – John Brown’s Body
05 – A Wonderful Guy
06 – Reunion Blues

Oscar Peterson – piano
Milt Jackson – vibes
Ray Brown – bass
Ed Thigpen – drums

Recorded on December, 1961

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, covers

Oscar Peterson – Reunion Blues {MPS}

Review by Scott Yanow (

Pianist Oscar Peterson joins up with his old friends, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and bassist Ray Brown, in addition to his drummer of the period, Louis Hayes, for a particularly enjoyable outing. After a throwaway version of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the all-star quartet performs Jackson’s title cut, Benny Carter’s ballad “Dream of You,” and four standards. Although not up to the excitement of Peterson’s best Pablo recordings of the 1970s, this is an enjoyable album.

01 – Satisfaction
02 – Dream of You
03 – Someday My Prince will Come
04 – A Time for Love
05 – Reunion Blues
06 – When I Fall in Love
07 – Red Top

Oscar Peterson – piano
Milt Jackson – vibraphone
Ray Brown – bass
Louis Hayes – drums

Recorded at MPS-Tonstudio, Villingen; 1972

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Modern Jazz Quartet – Blues at Carnegie Hall {Rhino}[MFSL]

Review by Scott Yanow (
On this Mobile Fidelity CD reissue of a live Atlantic set from 1966, The Modern Jazz Quartet performs eight blues-based compositions. In addition to such familiar pieces as the inevitable “Bags’ Groove,” “Ralph’s New Blues” (dedicated to jazz critic Ralph Gleason) and “The Cylinder,” there are a few newer pieces (including “Home” which is similar to Lee Morgan’s hit “The Sidewinder”) included for variety. This predictable but consistently swinging set is particularly recommended to fans of vibraphonist Milt Jackson.

01 – Pyramid (Blues for Junior)
02 – The Cylinder
03 – Really True Blues
04 – Ralph’s New Blues
05 – Monterey Mist
06 – Home
07 – Blues Milanese
08 – Bags’ Groove

John Lewis – piano
Milt Jackson – vibes
Percy Heath – bass
Connie Kay – drums

Recorded during a benefit concert presented by
the Manhattan School of Music at Carnegie Hall, April 27, 1966; New York City.

Label: Rhino – MFSL Edition
Year: 1994
Genre: Jazz
Style: Cool, Third Stream

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork