Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Milt Jackson (vibraphone); Hank Jones (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Connie Kay (drums).
Producer: Nesuhi Ertegun.
Reissue producer: Bob Porter.
Includes liner notes by C.H. Garrigues.
As John Coltrane moved from music rich in chordal complexity to a newer, freer form of modality--in which melodic and rhythmic freedom came to the fore--some critics couldn't make the imaginative leap. But no one could ever question Coltrane's superb musicianship. This all-star session isn't merely an aesthetic bone to these critics, but a superb example of two masters blowing relaxed and free over a tight, intuitive rhythm section. There's Jackson's Modern Jazz Quartet collaborator Connie Kay on drums, master of understated swing; the elegant, eternally tasteful Hank Jones on piano; and Mr. P.C., Paul Chambers, one of the fathers of modern bass playing.
Milt "Bags" Jackson and Coltrane play together with such easy, intuitive grace, it's hard to believe that BAGS AND TRANE is not a working band. The title tune is a wistful, engaging blues that passes its vamping, melodic figure around between vibes, piano and tenor sax. Jackson's funky variations over Chambers and Kay's leisurely beat is in perfect contrast to Trane's remarkably laid-back solo, whereas "Three Little Words" is given a crisply swinging treatment--Trane's blues cry is galvanizing and Jackson answers with rich harmonic variations.
Jones' captivating intro sets the tone for a tender reading of "The Night We Called It A Day," on which Trane follows Jackson's supple solo with yearning, concise phrases. A brisk rundown of Dizzy Gillespie's "Be-Bop" provides an equestrian set of changes worthy of these master players, and after a brisk romp by the vibraphonist, Trane is off to the races; then, following some terse harmonic juggling by Jones, Bags and Trane take things out with dueling eights. In closing, the tick-tock beat of "The Late Late Blues" sends everyone home swinging.
Record Collector (magazine) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's an enjoyable, swinging, eight-track hard bop session featuring stellar contributions..."