Newk and Bags: Studio and Live Recordings 1953-65
Sonny Rollins featuring Milt Jackson
Catalogue Number: ACMCD4386
On paper, at least, Sonny Rollins and the Modern Jazz Quartet look like unlikely musical collaborators. The former, full of capricious creativity, was famed for his adventurous spirit, changing his bands and sidemen– and even his own image - from album to album. The MJQ, on the other hand, were a model of orderly consistency – the ultimate disciplined, evening suited concert artists, who, with regular personnel and a steady output of tidily-played albums had, by the late 1950s, already entered the rarefied pantheon of the truly great jazz groups. However, on the few occasions when the MJQ's pianist and musical director John Lewis invited Rollins to augment the band, the results were a memorable win-win, mixing spontaneity and order, with the saxophonist – nicknamed Newk by his friends – finding inspirational common ground with the band’s vibraphone star, Milt Jackson, known to all as Bags. This new Acrobat collection assembles all the extant recordings featuring this partnership: a 1953 EP session, half an LP featuring Rollins guesting with the MJQ rhythm section, taped live in 1958, and a further album side recorded by the full band with both Milt Jackson and Rollins, in which they set down a definitive account of the vibes-man’s classic blues Bags' Groove. As a bonus, there is also a rare and exciting festival set, taped in Germany in 1965, during which Rollins and Jackson appeared with an all-star rhythm section including legendary Jazz Messenger leader Art Blakey. Not only do these recordings showcase the brilliance of all hands, they chart the course of Sonny Rollins' journey from new star to jazz icon. This release comes complete with photographs, reproductions of the original cover art and a detailed booklet essay by saxophonist and author Simon Spillett.