MILT JACKSON AND JOHN COLTRANE
BAGS & TRANE
ESSENTIAL JAZZ CLASSICS (EJC55460)
Bags & Trane, Three Little Words, The Night We Called It A Day, Be-Bop, The Late Late Blues, Stairway To The Stars, Blues Legacy, Centrepiece, Trane's Slow Blues, Slowtrane.
I'm so glad to see that this album is available again. Bags and Trane couldn't fail with such an inspired line-up virtuoso jazz musicans. Vibes giant Milt Jackson and drummer Connie Kay came in straight from the Modern Jazz Quartet, pianist Hank Jones had been touring and recording with Lester Young and Cannonball Adderley while bassist Paul Chambers had arrived glowing with distinction after recording Kind Of Blue with Miles and becoming John Coltrane's bass player of choice - and then there's Coltrane himself who had been making his presence felt with his adventurous albums Blue Train, Soultrane and Lush Life.
The first 6 tracks make up the original 1960 LP release (albeit in a different order) and feature two strong blues, three jazz standards and a rapid-fire blowing session and to complete the CD, four bonus tracks have been added.
This is, without doubt, one of the all time classic albums with Coltrane playing tenor sax throughout and sharing solo after solo with Milt and Hank who romp out on the percussive drive of the bluesy Bags & Trane and Jackson shines in the gorgeous opening of The Night We Called It A Day with a vibes solo that is as near perfection as Coltranes' easy takeover that follows with Milt slowing the whole thing down to a purring finish. Dizzy Gillespie's Be-Bop is taken a sixty miles an hour with everyone in the combo boppin' like mad but still in perfect unison while The Late Late Blues opens with a steady train-like rhythm with Kay and Chambers holding the chording down before Jackson shoots in with a driving, swinging run before going back to the solid backbeat as Coltrane breathes in sweetly with yet another joyful blowing session.
All the tracks on the original Bags and Train are packed with great jazz and moments of intense brilliancy but there's even more excellent stuff in the bonus cuts that include the Milt Jackson composition Blues Legacy which develops a cool groove cut through with slow vamping from Coltrane opening the door for Milt to enter with some wonderful adventurous runs laid over Jones' funky chordings until the whole thing is returned to Coltranes' safe hands for the outro. Then the CD is rounded out with two more bonus blues tracks Trane's Slow Blues and Slowtrane recorded with bassist Earl May and drummer Art Taylor under the watchful eye of engineer Rudy Van Gelder at the Hackensack studio in 1957.
There's much more to rave about but space is short and you'd be better listening to Bags & Trane and finding out for yourself why it's regarded as an all-time classic. I give it five stars just like everyone else does.
Review Date: May 2010