Milt round midnight

So, two mallets. I think what is interesting is how low his hands are. A good lesson for us all. You can’t play soft with high hands and you have no dynamics if you can’t play soft. I see that as the biggest problem with 4 mallets. The mallets are too hard and the hands are too high. No dynamics and that plinky sound. Often technically and harmonically impressive, but lacking in musicality.





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This is a great video to watch of him playing during a time when he was really loose with his band too. I did sound for this band one night in Philly when the sound engineer didn't show up. Got to see the second set for free sitting right next to the vibes.

I saw him play live many times. You gain a better understanding of some of the things Milt did when you hear him live. The way he blended with the band and how he approached the low end of the instrument were especially interesting live.

I love how Milt leaves space at the end of many of his lines. Really helps the music to breathe.

i agree! it's magical when he plays. he's not about technique he's totally about music. would you say he has amazing chops? i wouldn't but he's the best because of what he's saying. i think that's a lesson for us all!

Well, rhythmically he can’t be touched. When you play his transcribed solos you realize that rhythmic contrast and dynamics were a huge component. He makes it look easy, but some of his licks are near to impossible to play in tempo. And, he was improvising.

Fair warning: this is obvious evidence of vibegeekiness on my part. Guilty as charged.

After a couple of years of going the distance to own a Deagan Imperial and some original Albright mallets, then watching hours of videos to do a deeper dive into his grip and tone production technique, it is my opinion that it can be said that he had highly developed chops.

For the record, my goal was never and never will be to try to sound like him; many have tried and the best that can be done is to sound like a second rate copy. That said, I really do want to understand what he did to sound like that so I can use it in my own way. I don't think that it is at all obvious how complex his technique is because he executes it with such grace. But, the phrasing and tone production (including the incredibly complex rhythms and relationship to the groove) are a serious challenge to me, so I have to think of it as advanced. A lot of other players have a deeper well of harmonic or melodic material that they draw from, but the way he plays the material he works with is nuanced to the max.

I am about 3/4 of the way through the other piece of this whole project; I am transcribing all of his solos on Bags Opus. Beyond the obvious huge ear training lesson I am getting in doing that, I am completely humbled by depth of what he brought to the table back in 1958, the year I was born.

To quote Wayne's World, "I am not worthy, I am not worthy!" :)

I like very much what David Friedman once said on this site : a good technique is the one who allows you to execute well the music you want to play (not sure at all if thoses are the exact words he used, but that's the idea). Which suits perfectly Milt Jackson. In fact his technique is transparent, letting the music shine, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have one, on the contrary. Then he has a perfect technique, IMHO.Big or little doesn't matter, but quality.

This debate about great shops, great technique always sounded strange to me. When a player has too much technique or an insuffisant one, it's always at the cost of the music played, it's very easy to notice. Technique is precisely related to music and vice versa. It's quite obvious for me that a musician will do all the efforts needed to be able to play the music he wants to play, assuming he has something musical to play. If not, well, is he really a musician ? And then what are we talking about ?
And Milt was the best in his kind, no debate.

I remember hearing Milt live for the very first time at the Jazz Workshop on Boylston St. in 1978, when I was a freshman at the Conservatory. I was BLOWN AWAY. By the swing. The music. The feel.

All the great players here - Randy, Tony, etc...all you guys have added some great input on some of what you're thinking as you listen, to. He was just a great musician. The vibes were the vehicle he chose to speak to the world...