(b. 1 January 1923 - d. 9 October 1999)
is one of the most influential vibraphonists
ever to play the instrument. Before Jackson, only
and Red Norvo
found success on the
Jackson was born on New Year's Day in Detroit, Michigan. Music was a part of his life from early on.
At the age of seven, his older brother and he performed
as a gospel duo. He began to study piano, but after
hearing the great Lionel Hampton he took up the
Bebop was new at the time Jackson started cutting his teeth in the music scene, so of course he digested a
steady diet of Dizzy Gillespie
and Charlie Parker solos. In 1946 Jackson was
invited to join Gillespie's big band and his career
Late in the 1940's, the Milt Jackson Quartet
(or MJQ) was formed with Jackson and what was
was Gillespie's rhythm section at the time:
John Lewis on piano, Ray Brown on bass,
and Kenny Clarke on drums. Things became
a little more democratic when, in 1952, the name
changed to the Modern Jazz Quartet - still MJQ!
- with John Lewis taking on the leadership.
Percy Heath replaced Ray Brown in 1952 and
Connie Kay replaced Clarke in 1955. The MJQ
was one of the longest lived musical collaborations,
existing until their break-up in 1974 (notwithstanding
occasional reunion gigs).
In addition to his work with the MJQ,
Jackson recorded with many marque
names, not limited to John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery,
Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins,
and Ray Charles, as well as several records as a leader.
He also picked up the nickname Bags, evidenced by the
ubiquitous performances of his blues Bags' Groove.
Jackson died in 1999 of liver cancer.
His influence lives on in the music of
Bobby Hutcherson and Gary Burton and others.