Bags and Trane (1959) London Atlantic

Last updated: January 2015

Track Selection 1 Bee Bop (Gillespie)

Selection 2: Bags and Trane


John Coltrane (ts) Milt Jackson (vib) Hank Jones (p) Paul Chambers (b) Connie Kay (d) recorded NYC, January 15, 1959


I’m not big on Modern Jazz Quartet – that sort of cerebral chamber jazz , have tuxedo will travel, hasn’t worn well, What they needed was an injection of crack cocaine, a high voltage jolt,  and that is exactly what Coltrane  added. Cool mixed in equal proportion to hot. There is hardly a track that isn’t outstanding, my gosh, this record is a stunner.Now I understand why I only ever came across it in the 180gm New Re-issue  section. It is a classic.

Vinyl: UK London release of Atlantic 1368, mono


Decca New Malden pressing. Dekk-ahhhh Nu-maahl-den… I used to drive through New Malden, every day, for ten years.  Beneath its sleepy exterior is an equally sleepy interior. It is terminally dull.   Nothing ever happened in New Malden, certainly nothing “new”. But they pressed great records. New Malden was also home to Decca Navigational Instruments, the wartime technology equipment developers that gave Decca a technical head start, with its engineering skills.


Collectors Corner 

Source: eBay                                                                                                             Seller Description:Record in very good condition

So what do we know. It’s a record. Yes, we had that about figured, black round flat shiny thing. And it is in very good condition, what more might you want to know?

Well, how very good condition would be helpful. VG? VG+? strong VG+? VG ++? Would be Excellent but for the scratches? “A few marks that don’t affect play” is the latest line. Marks have turned out to be scratches, a particular kind of mark quite different to fingerprints or spindle-skates. Or visually graded only . Would you buy a car on the strength of the seller saying “I haven’t actually driven it but it looks alright“.


Turned out OK in the end.


13 thoughts on “Bags and Trane (1959) London Atlantic

  1. While MJQ hardly does it for me either, and no doubt this album with Trane is 5-star every inch of the way, I can suggest you try “Bean Bags” that Jackson recorded with Coleman Hawkins for further joy, “Bags meets Wes” is also highly recommended, as is “Bags’ Opus”. Tasty stuff indeed.


  2. Very sadly, this has remained the only Milt Jackson record on your blog, LJC. While you may be right about the MJQ’s “cerebral chamber jazz”, Milt Jackson himself is the exact opposite, even as a member of the MJQ. There is a wealth of beautiful records to prove his full-blooded jazz approach, such as “Things Are Getting Better” (Riverside 12-286) with Cannonball Adderley, or his own “Milt Jackson Quartet” (Prestige 7003) with Horace Silver. No horns on the latter, but what marvellous “blowing” by Milt and Horace! (We have to be careful about the choice of words these days…)


  3. Pingback: Milt Jackson and John Coltrane – Bags & Trane | RVJ []

  4. This album makes a convincing argument that Tom Dowd is a superior engineer to RVG if one wanted to argue such things. I just received the new ORG 45 rpm version of Bags and Trane and was blown away by the sound and performance. Coltrane’s sax is huge in the early stereo soundstage going from far right well into the center. Bag’s vibes sound a little more natural than how RVG recorded Bobby Hutcherson (edgy and a little brittle [which adds excitement and tension to Out to Lunch and Evolution]).

    The MJQ added a certain kind of dignity that paved the way for Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor to be concert performers and not just jazz entertainers creating a musical backdrop to sell drinks in a bar (which might make LJC hard bop til you drop fans dislike the MJQ even more). I saw the MJQ in the late 80s when I lived in LA and it was a great show. The MJQ took risks and tried lot’s of different styles of music and collaborated with a variety of musicians. The MJQ’s inability to get most jazz collectors excited has an upside: I can buy their records for cheap (Jimmy Guiffre too). I like jazz from crackly 20s dixieland to the furthest edges of what music is.


    • “This record is a stunner“, as LJC rightly claims. It wasn’t until recently that I got to know three additional tracks from that memorable session (Stairway To The Stars, Blues Legacy, and Centerpiece). Who knows what the “genuine“ Modern Jazz Quartet (with Lewis and Heath) plus Coltrane would have sounded like? Two such experiments with guest star Sonny Rollins went awry, in my opinion.


    • Tom Dowd may be a better engineer. The early Ornette Coleman and Mingus records on Atlantic can be stunning. More ‘open’ and ‘natural’ than some of teh RvG’s. But there are so many poor Dowd ones as well. RvG is more consistent. But this Bags and Trane record rocks


  5. Indeed, all MJQ recordings I had heard before never succeeded to please me. But on the other hand, the John Lewis/Sacha Distel – Afternoon In Paris LP (which is the MJQ + Sacha Distel, Pierre Michelot and Barney Wilen) is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Then again, it features Barney Wilen so that shouldn’t be that much of a surprise…


    • Barney Wilen, beautiful tenor. I am typing this in his home city, Nice,FR right now, on an AZERTY keyboard, which is driving me crazy. Up at Cimiez they have a road named after him, Alleé Barney Wilen opposite the Matisse.He is one of the only artists I buy on CD as I can’t get vinyl. I would not have looked twice at a Sacha Distel record, but quite possibly another “wrong” – think again.


  6. Hmm, I share the MJQ prejudice, but only to some degree. A friend and jazz dealer recommended that if I though the MJQ were genteel non-swingers then I should listen to the two LPs of the European Concerts (1967, I believe). I found copies and played them and had to agree — those two records swing like crazy and are just a touch less well mannered than is usually the case.

    Good to hear the Coltrane tracks above — I never have. They cook.


    • I had to make a quick check I han’t accidentally switched to 45 rpm. I think Hank Jones and Paul Chambers were briefed to keep it hot, and not let it fall into MJQ mould.
      I believe I have an MJQ European tour copy somewhere. Must dig it out, give it a second chance.


      • The European Concert LP’s Alun mentioned were recorded in Scandinavia in April 1960, they are Atlantic 1385 and 1386. Great solos by Bags (“Odds Against Tomorrow”). I would also strongly recommend the Carnegie Hall Concert LP from 1966, which is Atlantic 1468. No “cerebral chamber jazz” at all.


  7. it’s an old story: Jazz and Classical don’t match.
    I’ve MJQ early Prestiges, this and the first M.Jackson on Prestige.
    the vibe man is the hot soul of the quartet, Lewis being the cool.
    most hard bop fans don’t love MJQ, Andrew and me among them.
    it’s a kind of an elegant but cold shower.
    I like it hot.


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