399

Modern Jazz Quartet: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival

By

Sign in to view read count
Modern Jazz Quartet: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival
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 Monterey Jazz Festival held in the summer of 1963. Previously released on CD as In a Crowd, this set offers seven selections fans of the MJQ will no doubt recognize and enjoy, just under 40 minutes of the straight-ahead magic that made the group last so long.

What elevates the MJQ above and beyond classification as your typical bop ensemble are the skills of Jackson. His playing lends a sexy, almost otherworldly quality to the proceedings. Much to the audience's delight, the group conducts a fine reading of his signature tune "Bag's Groove," the mid-tempo take standing out as one of the highlights of the set. Jackson is again featured on the standard "Mean to Me," which starts out as a ballad, but quickly picks up steam and morphs into an up-tempo swing session.

The MJQ also tackles two compositions by Lewis. The album closer "The Sheriff" finds everyone playing with rapid-fire precision, the band obviously motivated by Kay's relentless cymbal work. The other Lewis-penned tune, "Winter Tale," provides the album's most humorous instance. After playing the song, which includes a rhapsodic theme reprised between sections of mid-tempo jamming, Lewis explains that it was written as a tribute to Hungarian music. An audience member quickly yells out "Why?." Lewis responds by simply saying, ..."because it sounds like their music. And I dig them," followed by much laughter and applause.

Fans of the Modern Jazz Quartet will no doubt find this release essential. It shows the prolific group at its absolute best. For new fans, it serves as an easygoing and enjoyable introduction to their vast catalogue.

Track Listing

Pyramid; In a Crowd; Mean To Me; Winter Tale; Bag's Groove; I Should Care; The Sheriff.

Personnel

Milt Jackson: vibraphone; John Lewis: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Connie Kay: drums.

Album information

Title: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Douglas Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read Warmer Than Blood
Warmer Than Blood
Chris Montague
Read Off Brand
Off Brand
Collage Project
Read Iron Starlet
Iron Starlet
Connie Han
Read Expanding Light
Expanding Light
Whit Dickey Trio

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.