Born: January 1, 1923 | Died: October 9, 1999 Primary Instrument: Vibraphone
Born on Jan. 1, 1923, in Detroit, Jackson's musical beginnings were in the neighborhood gospel churches as a pianist, guitarist, violinist percussionist and singer. He took up the vibraphone in high school. He moved to New York, played with Earl Hines and in 1945, joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band rhythm section, which also included pianist John Lewis, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Kenny Clarke. He worked with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis and in 1951 recorded with Gillespie bandmates Lewis, Clarke and Brown. Inspired by that recording, they reformed as the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952 with Percy Heath replacing Ray Brown and Connie Kay taking the drum chair after the departure of Kenny Clarke in 1955. For the following 50 years the sound of Milton Bags Jackson's vibraphone would signature the Modern Jazz Quartet and inspire generations of followers. Jackson's impassioned improvisations and compositions, including Bluesology and Bag's Groove, helped define the MJQ sound. Jackson recorded many splendid dates as a leader, including, The Ballad Artistry Of Milt Jackson, Ballads And Blues and Big Band Bags, and worked with many jazz immortals, including John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Ray Charles and Quincy Jones. In '99 he fronted an exciting album date with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Explosive! (Qwest). He died in 1999.