The Modern Jazz Quartet – Germany 1956-1958 – Lost Tapes (2013)

FrontCover1Taken from the original liner-notes:
Who would have thought this quartet would confound revolutions in fashion and survive for 40 years? And how many are aware that its popular breakthrough came in Europe in 1957? The conquest of the general public by these four gentlemen was more an act of seduction. The rhythm section of the Dizzy Gillespie Band formed the basis of the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) in 1952. At the time of these recordings, John Lewis was still in the process of developing the unique concept of MJQ as a jazz chamber group and to use a wide variety of sources to create a style of jazz free of cliche. “Change your attitude” was the MJQ motto. Jazz to them was more than mere chance music, loose jamming and a lot of swing: it required new and innovative approaches. Change was also tangible in terms of the group’s physical appearance – the four musicians wore tuxedos – and in the way they filed onto the stage. Everything was choreographed and exuded dignity.

The fact that Lewis, the man of ideas, was every inch an equal to his partner Jackson, the great improviser, is clearly audible in “Ralph’s New Blues” (written by Jackson for the critic Ralph J. Gleason in 1955), where he leads in and out of his own solo with great formal sophistication. During a studio break following TV recordings, Joachim-Ernst Berendt, the dedicatee of “J.B. Blues”, asked vibes player Milt Jackson to record a piece for the first time without rhythm section, mentioning the famous unaccompanied solo of Coleman Hawkins, “Picasso”. And that is how the version of “Tenderly” came about. Each track exemplifies how John Lewis, to quote Andre Francis, turned four musicians into “a sensitive instrument which vibrates in the same universe of sound, achieving a communion unique in the world of jazz.” (by Karl Lippegaus)

MJQ1956Modern Jazz Quartet in 1956

 “This is the stuff collectors dream of. The numbers induce salivating: a literal trove of never-before-released live jazz recordings dating back to 1947, some 3.000 hours of music. In all, there are 1,600 well-preserved, German-made audio recordings and 350 TV broadcasts by more than 400 artists and groups… That’s three down, 1,597 to go. Bring ’em on!” (by Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes)

Percy Heath (bass)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone)
Connie Kay (drums)
John Lewis (piano)
Harald Banter Ensemble (on 05.)
Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra (on 06., 07.)

01. Ralph’s New Blues (Jackson) 4.38
02. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 5.03
03. Willow Weep For Me (Ronell) 4.07
04. I’ll Remember April (DePaul) 4.12
05. Midsömmer (Lewis) 8.22
06. Bluesology (Jackson) 5.53
07. Django (Lewis) 7.03
08. Sun Dance (Lewis) 4.11
09. Cortège (Lewis) 8.08
10. You Go To My Head (Coots) 5.14
11. I Can’t Get Started (Duke) 3.03
12. Tenderly (Gross) 3.07
13. J.B. Blues (Lewis) 5.11


1 thought on “The Modern Jazz Quartet – Germany 1956-1958 – Lost Tapes (2013)

  1. Pingback: John Lewis Plays John Lewis - 1958 - Past Daily Soundbooth | Past Daily

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