Detroit's Sensation Records is probably best known to blues fans for the brilliant late 1940s recordings made for the label by John Lee Hooker. However, in three months in mid-1948, Sensation recorded five sessions that go right to the roots of the then emerging modern jazz. The session leaders were Milt Jackson, Sir Charles Thompson, Russell Jacquet and Sonny Stitt, but, among the supporting players, was a cast of great, and future great, names of modern jazz including J J Johnson, Max Roach, Leo Parker, Kenny Clarke, John Lewis and Ray Brown.
The music they played was at the heart of the organic changes happening in jazz, as it progressed from swing to both bop and the R & B-flavoured modernism that would later produce such musicians as Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Booker Ervin and Joe Henderson. The youthful, natural excitement of the performances remains and the fact that only a handful of the performances were issued at the time, and only twelve on a Galaxy LP in 1963, is surprising. The sessions not only represent very fine early work by major jazz talents Milt Jackson and Sonny Stitt but they also perfectly encapsulate the variety of sounds from the creative period that spanned the waning of the big band swing era and the waxing of the newer music based on small, improvisatory ensembles. Note: The sound quality on this release has been greatly improved over all previous issues of the material. Ace were able to go back to the original 1948 master and session discs (many of them in superb condition) and remaster directly from them. The sessions have also been arranged in chronological order and include an added bonus of nine previously unissued sides and one alternate take.