Recent Articles

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Modern Jazz Quartet: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings 1956-64

Read "Modern Jazz Quartet: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings 1956-64" reviewed by

The Modern Jazz Quartet The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings of The Modern Jazz Quartet 1956-64 Mosaic Records 2011 They were diverse in talent and temperament. John Lewis, the quiet and determined westerner, who told sound stories with his linear and logical blues-based pianisms; Milt “Bags" Jackson, the baggy eyed, Motor City vibraharp virtuoso; Percy Heath, the Philly bassist with deep, in-the-pocket basslines; Kenny Clarke, the bomb-dropping blacksmith of the beat from Pittsburgh; and Connie Kay, the New York groovemaster of West Indian descent who could throw down with bebop or Ruth Brown. Somehow those ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Modern Jazz Quartet: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings 1956-64

Read "Modern Jazz Quartet: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings 1956-64" reviewed by

The Modern Jazz Quartet The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings of The Modern Jazz Quartet 1956-64 Mosaic Records 2011 Even now, nearly sixty years later, it seems improbable that a group which came together as the rhythm section for one of the hottest players in bebop's genesis era, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, could morph into a standalone group that was the epitome of grace, elegance and cool dignity. But that's exactly what happened when Gillespie recruited pianist John Lewis (1920-2001), vibraphonist Milt Jackson (1923-1999), bassist Ray Brown (1926-2002) and drummer Kenny Clarke (1914-1985), giving the quartet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Scanner with the Post Modern Jazz Quartet: Blink of An Eye

Read "Blink of An Eye" reviewed by

From the very first sounds heard on Blink of An Eye's “Shadow Splice," a ground is gradually established with bass piano chords, a minor-key string bass arco line, a floating vibe resonance and steady pulse rising from the cymbals. As the Ellingtonian “Blues In C" evokes, the source of improvisational music is the tradition of jazz. No argument. But over time, the tools feeding into that tradition change and become a go-to part of the instrumental inventory, more so now than in the nascent application of electronics by Miles Davis or Ornette Coleman. British musician, Robin Rimbaud, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Scanner with the Post Modern Jazz Quartet: Blink Of An Eye

Read "Blink Of An Eye" reviewed by

If the early works of Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) can be described as voyeuristic, then Blink Of An Eye might just be Frotteurism, the act of touching others, usually in crowds, without their ever knowing. On Blink of an Eye he alters, accents and manipulates a jazz quartet's sound, often without it being obvious.Scanner began producing music in the late 1980s/early 1990s by pirating cellphone calls and working them into his electronic sound, an approach that fits nicely with pianist Matthew Shipp's “nubop" concept. Rimbaud and Shipp built this recording around the tradition and lineup of the famed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Modern Jazz Quartet: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival

Read "1963 Monterey Jazz Festival" reviewed by

For nearly half a century, the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) endured as one of the most well-renowned ensembles in jazz. The original MJQ came together in 1946 as the rhythm section in Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra: Milt Jackson on vibes and John Lewis on piano, as well as bassist Ray Brown and drummer Kenny Clarke. Brown and Clarke were replaced early on by Percy Heath and Connie Kay, respectively, but Lewis and Jackson would remain mainstays of the MJQ all the way up to its final recordings in the early '90s. This release features that updated lineup in performance from the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Modern Jazz Quartet: Bluesology: The Atlantic Years 1956-1988

Read "Bluesology: The Atlantic Years 1956-1988" reviewed by

Asked to name the most insurrectionary artists associated with the Atlantic label, most jazz fans would probably think first of saxophonists John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Pianist John Lewis' Modern Jazz Quartet would come much further down the list. Yet in its own, more velvet manner, the MJQ was as radical as Coltrane and Coleman. When the group came to prominence in the mid-1950s, its elegant chamber music, a blend of the blues and European baroque, subverted many of the conventions of the hard bop era and caused a storm of controversy.

Appearing on stage in immaculately tailored ...

FIRST TIME I SAW...

MJQ: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

Read "MJQ: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise"

New York City empties out like a condemned playground on a Sunday afternoon in July. People cooped up in air-dried apartments and offices all week escape in search of sunshine and trees. The good things that still happen in the City on weekends happen mostly inside of little hidden enclaves, isolated places well below street level. Places like the Village Vanguard, a wedge-shaped East Village cellar smaller than a one-car garage, where not so much as a splinter of daylight has ever penetrated its night-colored walls.There is light in The Vanguard, but it's an artificial, blood-stained colored light ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Modern Jazz Quartet: The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings

Read "The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings" reviewed by

The Modern Jazz Quartet may best be remembered for bringing a heightened sense of respectability to jazz – the coattails and gentlemanly demeanor helped bring the music from smoky clubs to concert halls and thus to a wider audience. The concept the MJQ employed – fusing a classical sense of composition to basic jazz improvisation – resulted in a series of records that were packed with effortless swing; it seemed as though no one broke a sweat during the recording process. Although the MJQ achieved a high level of reliability over the course of their long career, it also led ...

FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Preludes and Postludes: The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings

Read "Preludes and Postludes: The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings"

The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings (Prestige) may seem a curious collection to certain MJQ fans. It’s a bookend compilation, with 54 remastered tracks from their 1952 – ’55 Prestige recordings near the beginning, and from their 1981 – ’85 Pablo recordings near the end, of their 48-year, illustrious and elegant jazz career. Some might think this is not a truly representative MJQ set because it misses the guts of their tenure – their Atlantic Records catalog, most notably the exquisite performance retrospective European Concert (1960) and the chamber funk of Blues on Bach (1973).

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Modern Jazz Quartet: The Music Inn

Read "Modern Jazz Quartet: The Music Inn"

...in our desire for beauty in all things we are open, and one in our search for that little city of gold where the flute-player never wearies, and the spring never fades, and the oracle is not silent, that little city which is the house of art, and where, with all the Music of the Spheres, and the laughter of the gods, Art waits for her worshippers-Oscar Wilde In 1950, while Senator McCarthy spearheaded his anti-artistic witch hunts, NYC residents Philip and Stephanie Barber moved to rural Western Massachusetts. Once there, with the help of friends like Alan ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Modern Jazz Quartet: Four Dapper Dans Who Weren't Button Down

Read "Modern Jazz Quartet: Four Dapper Dans Who Weren't Button Down"

The Modern Jazz Quartet Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige & Pablo Recordings Prestige 2003 Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond were busy trading in the irregular time signatures that made their album’s staples in college student jazz collections the country over. Chico Hamilton had the lock on chamber jazz popularity on the West Coast with his piano-less quintet and a string of popular records for Pacific Jazz. Fertile Third Stream experiments were propagating on both shores through the work of genre-straddling composers like Gunther Schuller and Jimmy Giuffre. But arguably more than any other working ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Modern Jazz Quartet with Laurindo Almeida: Collaboration

Read "Collaboration"

In the CD jacket notes, Label M founder Joel Dorn informally, as is his wont, tells the buyers of Collaboration that it is one of his two favorite Modern Jazz Quartet recordings. The other is European Concert. Now, both albums have been re-released, and Dorn's perseverance and dedication to the highest level of jazz have paid off--more for the listening public than for himself.For on Collaboration, we do get to hear a superlative recording on which Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida teams with The Modern Jazz Quartet in a rare opportunity. It highlights their cultural sophistication as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Modern Jazz Quartet: European Concert

Read "European Concert"

Ironically, The Modern Jazz Quartet's European Concert album finally is released on CD for the first time just before the passing of the third member of the legendary group, reducing the survivors to one: Percy Heath, who also is a member of one of the leading family triumvirates in jazz. Listed as one of the favorite MJQ albums by many of its fans, European Concert initially was released as a double-album package documenting the group's performances throughout Scandinavia in 1960. Finally, Atlantic Records made the album available for re-release, and Label M, with its long list of connections, snatched it ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Modern Jazz Quartet: Django

Read "Django"

The longevity, popularity and surprising durability of the Modern Jazz Quartet is striking upon listening to Django , the group's very first full-length LP. Recorded at various times between 1953 and 1955, it introduces what amounts to Dizzy Gillespie's big band rhythm section, with pianist John Lewis (b. 1920), bassist Percy Heath (b. 1923, who replaced original bassist, Ray Brown), drummer Kenny Clarke (1914-85, who left shortly hereafter to be replaced by Connie Kay) and vibraphonist Milt Jackson (b. 1923) -- one of the greatest improvisers in jazz and a full member of the MJQ until his sad and unfortunate ...



Weekly Giveaways

Roscoe Mitchell

Roscoe Mitchell

About | Enter

Peter Lerner

Peter Lerner

About | Enter

Jamie Saft

Jamie Saft

About | Enter

Sun Trio

Sun Trio

About | Enter

Sponsor: Nonesuch Records

Community Members

Join our growing community of
writers, musicians, visual artists and advocates.

Join Us Today!