J.J. Johnson & Milt Jackson - A Date in New York

Two of the greats from the classic bebop era, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and trombonist J.J. Johnson, team up on this album from Mar. 7, 1954. Jackson was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, working with his big band in 1946. Considered the top vibraphonist of bebop, Jackson worked with all of the greats including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Woody Herman’s Second Herd before beginning a long association as the main soloist with the Modern Jazz Quartet. At a time when bebop’s breakneck tempos made it possible that the trombone was going to be relegated to becoming a minor instrument, J.J. Johnson developed a brilliant technique that not only became the pacesetter for trombonists but practically saved his horn in modern jazz.

A Date In New York has some of the finest J.J. Johnson on record. He is the star of a group that also includes Jackson, tenor-saxophonist Al Cohn (on four selections), pianist Henri Renaud, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Charlie Smith. His playing is outstanding on “Jerry Old Man,” “There's No You” and “Indiana.” Milt Jackson is superb on vibes, and subs for Renaud on piano on three songs. Jackson also displays his versatility by playing “Lullaby Of The Leaves” as a piano trio feature and singing on “The More I See You.” A Date In New York is something special and a must for straight ahead jazz collectors.

SKU: IC7007

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Jay Jay's Blues Jerry Old Man There's No You Indiana Lullaby of the Leaves I'll Remember April Out of Nowhere If I Had You The More I See You

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist J.J. Johnson & Milt Jackson
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor Henri Renaud, Milt Jackson, Al Cohn, Percy Heath, Charlie Smith
SKU IC7007


Customer Reviews (2)

"J.J. and Jackson - A-OK!"Review by Big Toots
IC 7007 A Date in New York J.J. Johnson and Milt Jackson

In a manner similar to Woody Shaw’s effect on improvisational trumpeting, trombonist J.J. Johnson (here listed as “Jay Jay”) took an instrument with a garrulous “gut-bucket style” playing prevalence in Dixieland and gravitated it into substantially more technically enhanced and Bop-tinged soloing environments. Johnson was simply a sorcerer with a brass wand over his shoulder and in his hands. And, like Bird’s “flown feathers,” virtually every jazz trombonist owes more than a little slide-something to Johnson.

In this Five-Star recording (which was also awarded a French Jazz Academy’s “Oscar”) Johnson and co-horts, including vibraphone (and piano and vocal) master, Milt Jackson, are magnifique. From Bar One of “Jay Jay’s Blues” you get the idea that this is going to be a powerful and resonating jazz recording – and it certainly is. Across the session which was recorded in New York in 1954, Johnson is fluid, creatively brilliant and even slyly humorous as he fronts and winds his way through 9 brilliantly played selections. Jackson, here before his MJQ days, is always an upbeat and swinging performer. And, he doesn’t disappoint. On “Jerry Old Man” and elsewhere, Jackson brings “blue life” to sterile metal. Jackson’s pianist and vocal skills were plentiful and he shows same on his features, “Lullaby of the Leaves” and “The More I See You.”

This group cooked, as well. “Indiana” gets the full, fast “back home” treatment with Johnson (sans Jackson) spinning off motif and motif and sculpting his solo as each chorus parades by. As relates ballads, the frontliners are aces. On”There’s No You” the “Js” are both sublime, keeping the melody very top of mind as they explore improvisationally. Johnson’s tone is centered, robust and avoids the “miss-the-target” nature of other bone types. He’s master of his axe at all times (“I’ll Remember April”).

Tenor man, Al Cohn (who would later pair with “Zoot" Sims in a celebrated duo series of recordings, as would Johnson with Kai Winding) delivers fine cameos. Pianist Henri Renaud, bassist Percy Heath (spotlit on “Out of Nowhere”) and drummer Charlie Smith are a swinging pack and keep things at the warmer end of the spectrum.

“A Date in New York” is award-winning indeed. Take a big bite from this delicious apple.

(Posted on 6/11/2015)
Milt Jackson / J.J. JohnsonReview by Simon Sez
All jazz trombonists should get on their knees and thank J.J. Johnson for saving their instrument. When bebop with its fast tempos and rapid playing took over in the 1940s, the trombone looked like it was doomed. How could the trombone of Kid Ory, Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden possibly keep up with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie? It is funny to think that the clarinet, which can easily be played fast, became a minor instrument in modern jazz while the trombone, with its awkward slide, survived quite well. One has to thank J.J. Johnson, who not only figured out how to play the trombone very fast (almost sounding like he did not have to deal with a slide) but, unlike the clarinetists of the time, had a melancholy and serious tone that fit in very well with the beboppers.
A Date In New York has a few sessions that often team together Johnson with the great vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Jackson gets to show off his many musical talents for, in addition to vibes, he plays piano on three songs and sings fine on “The More I See You.” But, with apologies to Jackson and Al Cohn (who plays tenor on four songs), the trombonist really steals the show. J.J. Johnson plays throughout with the power of a trumpeter and the speed of a saxophonist. Maybe a trombone is not supposed to sound that easy to play, but J.J. does it, showing that his instrument is more flexible than one might have thought.

Simon Sez: A Date In New York (IC7007) has Milt Jackson on vibes, piano and vocals but its real star is the great trombonist J.J. Johnson.

(Posted on 5/6/2014)

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