Recorded at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York on November 25, 1974, The Modern Jazz Quartet comprised of vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath, pianist John Lewis and drummer Connie Kay are at their very best. Performing with their distinctive bebop, cool jazz and third-stream sound, a blend of jazz and classical influences, the quartet performs some of their greatest hits including “Bags’ Groove,” “Summertime,” “A Night in Tunisia” and “Django.” This audiophile recording by one of jazz’s finest small ensembles is an essential for any jazz collection.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. One of the first Modern Jazz Quartet albums on Atlantic – a 1957 set that finds the crew in one of their freshest periods – laying down their soon-to-be trademark style in a fashion that warrants the self-titled tag! The set kicks off with a stellar medley of standards, all given the tight MJQ touch! The crew strolls through "They Say It's Wonderful", "How Deep Is The Ocean", "Body And Soul" and more in that 10 minute stretch. Other album highlights include the drum-heavy "La Ronde", a sweet reading of "Night In Tunisia", "Baden Baden", "Bag's Groove" and "Yesterdays".
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. A seminal album that defined the fresh sound of a whole new generation in jazz – that "third stream" movement that was different from the cool jazz of the west coast, and the fire of New York! The style here follows that same mix of jazz and higher-concept elements you'd hear on other Modern Jazz Quartet albums for Atlantic – but the music is expanded here with some great help from outside parties too.
The Modern Jazz Quartet make a rare appearance on Verve Records in the 50s – splitting half the album here with the classic Oscar Peterson Trio! The live performance was recorded in Chicago, and definitely has the MJQ working in a looser vibe than on some of their late 50s recordings for Atlantic – a bit more open and swinging, in a Verve mode – with some of the bop inspiration that first showed up on their early Prestige recordings – as you'll hear on the cuts "Now's The Time", "Round Midnight", and "D&E Blues". The second half of the record features live material from Oscar Peterson's hip group with Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass – that great drum-less lineup that really lets Oscar take off on piano – on tunes that include "Big Fat Mama", "Should I Love You", "Indiana", and "Elevation".
More material from the famous Last Concert record from the MJQ – not really the last concert ever from the Modern Jazz Quartet – but a set that seemed so at the time, given that the group went their separate ways for a number of years! The record's got the combo in really top form – very much back to the basics of their early time on Atlantic Records, with a sublime focus on that unique sound that no other group like this could match.
After issuing 10" EPs for several years, Concorde (1955) marked two significant touchstones in the five-plus-decade career of the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ). One of those was the replacement of co-founder Kenny Clarke (drums) with former Lester Young quintet member Connie Kay (drums), who joined in time for the other hallmark – this, the MJQ's very first full-length long-player. Kay remained with the combo for the better part of four decades, until his passing in 1994. The transition between percussionists is both smooth as well as sensible. Kay's understated rhythms and solid timekeeping are perfectly suited to the clever arrangements and sophisticated sound of Milt Jackson (vibraphone), John Lewis (piano) and Percy Heath (bass).
Christmas came early in 1971; in May, Atlantic released Plastic Dreams, the penultimate studio album from the Modern Jazz Quartet during their main, 22-year run as an ensemble. Of the MJQ's albums, Plastic Dreams has never been a critic's favorite, and was an album that mystified many of the group's longtime followers. First was the gatefold front cover, impossible to represent well in AMG's scan, which featured a "plastic" image of a nude woman that was really pushing the envelope by 1971 standards; it was almost "indecent." Secondly were the liner notes by arch-New York jazz critic Martin Williams; while they were certainly appreciative, they really made you wonder if Williams was listening to the same album you were. Third was the inclusion of two Christmas selections on an album that didn't otherwise have anything to do with Christmas — indeed, what was going on here? The answer, quite simply, was that Plastic Dreams was as close as the MJQ ever got to making a pop album, and the production work of Arif Mardin reflects that idea — it utilizes a "hot" pop production rather than the dry-as-a-bone styled mix that typifies the MJQ's recordings up to that time. The opener, "Walkin' Stomp," reasserts this concept in a big way; it is as far into playing pure funk that the MJQ ever got, with Percy Heath laying down a solid groove and Milt Jackson contributing a brilliant, blazing solo. "Trav'lin" is a strong point of departure also, a minimalist time keeping exercise that contrasts rapid, repetitive figurations coordinated between John Lewis' left hand and Heath's bass with a very slowly evolving melody. Mardin further highlighted this by adding a subtle delay to the whole recording and sinking it slowly into the track, the only time the MJQ ever embraced the assistance of electronic technology into their work aside from participating in Gunther Schuller's "Conversation" (1957). While there is nothing else in the MJQ's book like "Trav'lin," Martin Williams stated that it was "another one reminiscent of their early pieces." The title track, "Plastic Dreams," is a reflective and relaxed tune that benefits from Lewis' employment of the harpsichord over the piano, as does "England's Carol," a fresh spin on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." The version of "Piazza Navona" here utilizes five horns and is like an entirely different composition from the one that appeared on The Comedy and Lewis' album The Golden Striker in 1960. It has an irresistibly catchy, entirely new introductory figure that winds its way through the piece, and once you hear it on Plastic Dreams, you'll miss it when you listen to the older versions. Indeed, as a whole Plastic Dreams does seem like a final refinement of several idealistic threads found throughout the MJQ's studio work stretching back to about 1960, with generous room made for new directions. By contrast, the album that followed — Blues on Bach (1973) — is more readily recognizable as belonging to the Third Stream context already established for the group. Despite the lukewarm criticism that has attended to it, and the fact that Atlantic didn't release it on CD until 34 years after it first appeared, Plastic Dreams is one of the MJQ's most exploratory efforts, though in the opposite direction from albums like Third Stream Music. As such, Plastic Dreams deserves pride of place as one of the late, and last, high-water marks to be found among their studio work during their regular period of activity, and it remains one of the most hip sounding and easily enjoyed of the MJQ's albums more than thirty years on. – Review by Uncle Dave Lewis, AMG.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. This studio date came about as a result of Albert Mangelsdorff's appearance at the Third Yugoslavian Jazz Festival, where pianist John Lewis was impressed enough with his performance to set up a recording session a few days later. With bassist Karl Theodor Geier and drummer Silvije Glojnaric also on hand, none of the musicians had ever played together, though it made little difference as they quickly absorbed the originals of Lewis and Mangelsdorff, along with the familiar standard "Autumn Leaves" (a trio arrangement omitting Lewis) and Gary McFarland's "Why Are You Blue."