Lit at Both Ends

Unmitigated delights are plentiful, however. One compositional angle Jackson has mastered is the vamp, and he is full of good ones, reflecting a close look at the champions, notably Horace Silver (''African Dreams'' has more than a glancing acquaintance with ''Song for My Father'') and Abdullah Ibrahim (notably ''Peace of Mind,'' a rolling, pounding surf supporting the indefatigable Murray). One musician who should get a particular boost from his contributions is the undervalued trumpet player Hugh Ragin, who reveals a gift for thoughtful pastiche in two memorable pieces (all others are by Jackson)--''Ballad for Miles'' aptly borrows ''Motherless Child,'' and the marvelous ''Fanfare and Fiesta'' (the vamp of which suggests A Love Supreme) is just that, a parade of alarums that delivers on its mariachi promise. Ragin combines tremolos, growls, blasts, and a broadly expressive timbre, and Jackson is prodigious, working thunderous bass rumbles against skittering frills. Ragin is also heard on one of Jackson's best tunes, ''Subliminal Messages,'' weaving a full tapestry of lightly-tongued and staccato phrases and diverse vocalisms. Perhaps Jackson's most confident showcase is ''Chick-isms,'' a nod to the Corea of ''Spain,'' in which he solos with a succinct and focused clarity, clearly enjoying his unmistakably ringing sound, and bluffing Debriano as playfully as he does Carter.

Billy Bang is featured in his merry Stuff Smith mode on ''Bang's Dream,'' an exercise in swinging abandon with a fine a cappella episode, and the highly dramatic ''Pleasure and Pain,'' which offers very little pain, building darkly on a deft six-note piano vamp that anchors him in a carefully constructed rhapsody that spins outward in a widening yet staunchly disciplined orbit. Ray Anderson rocks with buoyant aplomb on ''Catch It,'' skimming Jackson's melody and chords, and Don Byron exhibits a beautiful conservatory tone on ''Time,'' one of Jackson's prettiest melodies, in a subtly Middle Eastern vein that acknowledges the clarinetist's trips down klezmer lane. Murray is Murray, essaying his sweetest sound in gospel-tinged numbers that imply a benediction in ''Easy'' and near Ayler-esque lunar-lyricism in ''Love Song.'' Jackson emerges from these discs as protege and advocate, and you feel he has scarcely begun to show all he can do.

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