Pianist-organist Milt Buckner originated the “locked hands” technique in which parallel lines are played as two-handed “block” chords. The style has been emulated by his and future generations from George Shearing to Oscar Peterson and beyond. From 1941-1948, then again in the early 50’s, Buckner worked as arranger and director for jazz giant Lionel Hampton’s band. He was also instrumental in bringing the Hammond organ into modern popular music. From 1966 until his death in 1977 Bruckner spent most of his time in Europe. For French critic André Hodeir, “Bruckner must surely belong to the front line of pianists along with Earl Hines, Fats Waller, and Teddy Wilson.”
Buckner’s Play Chords won the Hot Club de France’s prestigious Grand Prix de Jazz for the best album of 1967. No wonder: Jimmy Woode, bassist on some of the greatest Duke Ellington recordings of the 50’s, and the legendary Jo Jones, engine of the Count Basie Orchestra, and arguably the greatest drummer of the Swing Era, were along for the ride. Feeling Sorta Villingen, Chitline A La Carte, Hamp’s Boogie Woogie, and Saba House Party are all blues pieces by Buckner. The first two are mastered in medium tempo. The boogie is a dancing, down-to-earth classic, and “Saba" portrays the kind of slow blues played late at night with the lights down low and the party getting down and dirty. Cute shows off Jo Jones’ drumming magic, and Alec Lovejoy presents an up-tempo romp with a smoking bass intro prefacing a blistering piano solo. I Only Have Eyes for You and Pick Yourself Up have loping medium swing grooves. The early bop classic Robbin’s Nest has a relaxed feel, with Milt at his “locked hands” best. Bruckner plays the ballad Yours is My Heart Alone with a “light music” touch. You can’t go wrong with this all-star trio.