Slice of Soul – Enchanted Lady
June 16, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Milt Jackson & Ray Brown – ‘Enchanted Lady’
taken from Memphis Jackson (Impulse, 1970)

The vibraphone remains an instrument for me that encourages a mixed reaction. Although in certain musical settings it is able to maintain a soulful and smoky edge, all too often the tone of the instrument can leave me feeling a little sterile with an unsettling sense that I’m stood in a slightly rundown elevator in the sort of hotel that needed a decor update somewhere around 1987. The figurative cousin of the dreaded panpipes, the sound of the instrument has been unfortunately corrupted for me by associations that definitely don’t do it any justice. That is unless Milt Jackson’s holding the mallets.

Now I can’t say I’m particularly up on the man’s work, but what I have heard I love. ‘Enchanted Lady’ is one such number, found on his seemingly forgotten-about LP Memphis Jackson where he worked closely with long-term collaborator bassist Ray Brown. With frustratingly little information online regarding this album, I’ve got little to give you in the way of background to the release, but fortunately ‘Enchanted Lady’ is so good that it temporarily eclipses the desires of the detail-fixated geek in me. What really gets me about this song is the progression over the first minute and the wonderful way in which various elements of the mix join, leave and re-enter it seamlessly over the track’s duration. Jackson’s vibraphone part is of course worthy of its own mention, but it’s really the way in which all of the instruments gel and the momentum maintained by Paul Humphries’s drums that make this such a beautifully realised composition.

It’s not hard to see why Pete, De La and Large Pro have jacked sections of this for their lush bangers, but this really is a song that stands alone from its later incarnations. If you have any background on this LP then I’m all ears, but for the moment I remain remarkably content with the music alone. And let’s not be too hasty… sometimes even those elevators have charm.

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