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The instrumentation and gentlemanly postures on the cover of The Mastersounds certainly hint at a band who tried to work the same territory as the Modern Jazz Quartet. Once voted best new small combo by the Down Beat Critics’ Poll, the group eventually disbanded in 1960 but reconvened to record the two sessions featured here. Indeed, one can hear the same formality as the MJQ in the Mastersounds, but the problem is that the approach isn’t really all that captivating. One can rest assured that no one broke a sweat while recording these tunes, as austerely as they are played. Working over a set of drowsy standards, the quartet achieves a level of subtlety that ensures that everything begins to sound the same by the third track. Only Monk Montgomery, who plays upright bass instead of the electric bass shown on the cover, threatens to be something more special, with an unexpected wealth of artful soloing time. The MJQ was never a real hard-hitting band either, but the Mastersounds managed to reach new levels of blandness in their brief tenure.
Track Listing: Golden Earrings; People Will Say We're In Love; (There Is) No Greate Love; West Coast Blues; Medley: I've Never Been In Love Before/ Don't Blame Me; I Could Write A Book; Whisper Not; Fink, Fank, Funk; It Could Happen To You; Try It; Alone Together; For Now; Surrey With the Fringe On Top.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.