Some jazz groups “have history”: that is, the intuitive understanding that comes from playing often, even if not night after night, together. (In the dating world, it’s called “chemistry.”) Other collaborations — by whatever circumstance — emerge when people who don’t ordinarily work together are asked to play for the public. I don’t know whether the producer of the Grande Parade du Jazz, colloquially called the “Nice Jazz Festival,” decided it would be interesting to mix it up, or whether Milt Jackson said, “Here are the people I’d like to play with.” I suspect the former.
But, for almost an hour, we have a set of music from Milt, vibraphone; Jimmie Rowles, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Slam Stewart, string bass; Duffy Jackson, drums. I would guess that Milt and Jimmie might have encountered each other as far back as the mid-Forties in California; Bucky and Slam worked as a duo and in many rhythm sections at this time; Duffy, the youngest of the group, had experience as Basie’s drummer. Being a Rowles-devotee, my overpowering first reaction was, “Goodness! Nearly on hour of Jimmie in a different context, on video!”
Preparing this post, I looked in Tom Lord’s discography for any evidence that this quintet — or a near-relation — had recorded, and found none. But Milt, Jimmie, and Ray Brown (and perhaps others) had performed a year earlier in Sao Paulo as part of the Montreux Jazz Festival tour, and here’s photographic evidence. I certainly would like to hear this:
Milt, someone with great awareness, treats the repertoire as he would if presiding over a jam session, and calls songs that no one could get lost in — THE MAN I LOVE / STARDUST / BLUES / DISORDER AT THE BORDER / SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY / BAGS’ GROOVE //. I don’t know, if when the set was over, the players said to each other, “Well, we got through that. Did you see all those television cameras? Damn, people are going to be watching this? I need to lie down,” or if the general reaction was, “What a triumph!”
2020 criticism of 1979 joys will be discouraged. I think this is a priceless hour, and am thrilled it exists. I hope you feel the same way. And I am able to share this with you through the generous kindness of A Good Friend.
May your happiness increase!