The Record Collection

The Modern Jazz Quartet: Fontessa (1956)

Atlantic 1231

Track list:

01 – Versailles (Porte de Versailles)
02 – Angel Eyes
03 – Fontessa
04 – Over the Rainbow
05 – Bluesology
06 – Willow Weep For Me
07 – Woody’n You


John Lewis – piano
Milt Jackson – vibraphone
Percy Heath – bass
Connie Kay – drums

#05 recorded on February 14, 1956 at Capitol Studios, New York.
All the other selections recorded on January 22, 1956 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey.

Supervised By – Nesuhi Ertegun
Recorded by Rudy van Gelder and John Kraus

Sleeve notes: Ralph J. Gleason
Cover design: Robert Guidi
Cover Drawing: Norman Sunshine
Photography: William Claxton

This 1956 record marked the beginning of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s long and fruitful relationship with Atlantic Records and was one of their most inspired visits to a studio.

While there had been excellent bands in the past that created a chamber-jazz genre, such as Red Norvo’s trio, John Lewis’s vision of a fusion of jazz and classical elements was distinctly original.

It’s apparent here in the controlled counterpoint of “Versailles,” the extended first recording on “Fontessa,” with Lewis’s spare and precise piano perfectly complementing the looser swing of Milt Jackson’s glistening vibraphone sound.

The group mingles beautifully around Percy Heath’s supple, melodic bass lines and Connie Kay’s discrete and gently propulsive beat.

Jackson’s “Bluesology” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody’n You” inspire boppish invention, while the limpidly beautiful standards “Willow Weep for Me” and “Angel Eyes” demonstrate Jackson’s ability to shift mood in a single phrase.
—via Rappamelo