Milt Jackson – Invitation – Riverside/Concord/Mobile Fidelity

by | May 2, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Milt Jackson – Invitation – Riverside/Concord/Mobile Fidelity stereo-only SACD UDSACD 2031, 49.2 min. *****:

(Milt Jackson, vibes; Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Jimmy Heath, tenor sax; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Connie Kay, drums; Virgil Jones, trumpet on 2 tracks)

Here’s half of the Modern Jazz Quartet and a bunch of the best names in jazz in the 60s who were “invited” into the studio by Milt for a relaxed three-day-long recording session.  Couldn’t help but be a terrific album with such people and enough time. Today the players would probably be rushed in and out of the studio in one night.  Milt and the initial members of the MJQ had been the rhythm section of Dizzy’s band in the 40s and Bags enjoyed well over 40 years as part of the MJQ as well as many great albums with other aggregations such as this one.

The ten tracks include two bonus tracks which weren’t on the original LP: alternate takes of Monk’s Ruby My Dear and Kenny Dorham’s touching ballad None Shall Wander. (And thanks for putting the alternates at the end.) There are three jazz standards with a Hollywoodish slant.  The two different Ruby tunes provide an interesting pairing, but I wondered why they weren’t on adjacent tracks.  I especially like the relaxed and easy-going tone of the whole album, even on the up-tempo numbers.  The rich tone of Bags’ vibes is just luscious. Pianist Tommy Flanagan sounds to me like one of the most important factors in the success of these improvisations; then there’s the superb tempo-keeping of MJQ-colleague Connie Kay and  Ron Carter’s unmatched basso continuo.  The sonics are clean and have great presence; the CD layer isn’t bad either. My only complaint is that the only notes furnished are “down-sampled” text from the original 12” LP reduced to fit the 5” SACD cardboard jacket.  Hey, Mo-FI, that doesn’t skate for us geezers – even with reading glasses!  We’re not demanding Readers Digest Large Print, but please, just standard-size font notes in a premium-priced album…

Invitations, Too Close for Comfort, Ruby My Dear, The Sealer, Poom-a-Loom, Stella by Starlight, Ruby, None Shall Wander, Ruby My Dear (alt take), None Shall Wander (alt take)

 — John Henry

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