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Oliver Jackson: The Last Great Concert

Besides George Wein’s appropriately laudatory paragraphs on Jackson’s drum prowess and some brief bios, there’s scant info on how this crew came together. It was obviously a swell night in Hamburg when they made this concert, as their collective joy of swing is palpable. The program takes 10 standards plus two originals and blends them into a nourishing jam, delivered in the manner of a scaled-down Jazz at the Philharmonic. Jackson is crowned leader of this date as a sort of honorarium: his taste and consummate swinging drive at the tubs is that of the true team player. He’s refined enough not to require the spotlight and leaves soloing to the rest of the cast.

Jackson, who died barely six months after this November ’93 date, is one of three Americans, including trumpeter Randy Sandke and tenorist Harry Allen. They are joined by Europeans Danny Moss on tenor, Antti Sarpila on clarinet and tenor, Jerry Tilitz on trombone, Brian Dee on piano, Len Skeat on bass and Moss’ spouse, Jeanie Lambe, for two vocals. It’s a pity there is no documentation as to how this mixed cast arrived in Hamburg this night, but they share an obvious delight in addressing these chestnuts plus two Sandke originals in a fairly unremarkable though swinging manner.

Originally Published