Personnel: Milt Jackson (vibraphone); George Dorsey (lute, alto saxophone); Earle Warren (flute, alto saxophone); Jerome Richardson (flute, tenor saxophone); Tate Houston (baritone saxophone); Dave Burns, Doc Severinsen, Ernie Royal, Henry Boozier, Snooky Young (trumpet); Julius Watkins, Willie Ruff, Ray Alonge (French horn); John Rains, Melba Liston, Quentin Jackson, James Cleveland (trombone); Major Holley (tuba); Percy Heath, Richard Davis , Ron Carter (bass instrument); Albert "Tootie" Heath, Charlie Persip (drums); Wes Montgomery (guitar); Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone); Clark Terry, Kenny Dorham, Thad Jones (trumpet); Hank Jones , Horace Silver, Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly (piano); Connie Kay, Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Orrin Keepnews.
Recording information: Plaza Sound Studios, New York City, NY/The Village Gate (06/16/1954-12/09/1963).
Arrangers: Ernie Wilkins; Melba Liston; Tadd Dameron.
Outside of the sophisticated, formal demeanor of the Modern Jazz Quartet, vibraphonist Milt "Bags" Jackson could be exuberant, funky, and fun-loving (which is not to say that his MJQ work doesn't display these qualities, only that they were usually sublimated within the group's ethos). THE BEST OF MILT JACKSON, which collects 14 cuts from Jackson's dates as a leader for Prestige and Riverside, demonstrates the lighter side of his sensibility, as well as his mastery of the blues idiom (see his self-penned tune "Stonewall") and command of the expressive capabilities of his instrument.
When not playing with the MJQ, Jackson enjoyed working in ensembles of various sizes. THE BEST OF represents Jackson's cool, cerebral--yet always swinging--vibes playing in contexts ranging from a quartet to a 14-piece big band. Moreover, the personnel--trumpeters Clark Terry and Kenny Dorham, saxophonists Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Heath, guitarist Wes Montgomery, and bassist Ron Carter, to name just a few--reads like an all-star roll call. Bags and company stretch out on everything from "'Round Midnight" to Jackson's originals on this enjoyable compilation.