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The Modern Jazz Quartet and the Third Stream (1956 - 1961)

Read "The Modern Jazz Quartet and the Third Stream (1956 - 1961)" reviewed by Russell Perry

As the Modern Jazz Quartet, members of which were once Dizzy Gillespie's rhythm section in the 1940s, moved into the 1960s, they continued to swing in their own quiet way, even as their music director, pianist John Lewis, explored the third stream, a synthesis of jazz and classical music. Having been founded in 1952, the MJQ was active as a unit until 1974, then reunited periodically for another twenty years, until drummer Connie Kay's death in 1994. Playlist ...

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 Eugene Holley, Jr.

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 ...

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 John Kelman

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Modern Jazz Quartet: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival

Read "1963 Monterey Jazz Festival" reviewed by Graham L. Flanagan

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

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

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 ...

FIRST TIME I SAW

MJQ: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

Read "MJQ: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" reviewed by Rob Mariani

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

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

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 ...

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" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Modern Jazz Quartet: The Music Inn

Read "Modern Jazz Quartet: The Music Inn" reviewed by Elliott Simon

...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, ...

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" reviewed by Derek Taylor

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Modern Jazz Quartet with Laurindo Almeida: Collaboration

Read "Collaboration" reviewed by AAJ Staff

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Modern Jazz Quartet: Django

Read "Django" reviewed by Douglas Payne

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) ...


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