TRC

The Modern Jazz Quartet: Pyramid / Third Stream Music / The MJQ & Orchestra / Lonely Woman / The Sheriff

sub-titled: Original Album Series

00 MJQ Original Album Series

This compilation:
Label: Warner Jazz
8122797197

*****

The Modern Jazz Quartet – Pyramid (1959-60)

01 Pyramid

Track list:

01 Vendome
02 Pyramid (Blues for Junior)
03 It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
04 Django
05 How High the Moon
06 Romaine

Personnel:

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

Recorded: at “Music Inn”, Lenox, MA, August 22 [#4] & 25 [#6], 1959; Capitol Studios, New York City; December 21, 1959 [#2,3]; & January 15, [#1,5]; 1960
Released: 1960
Label: Atlantic 1325

Supervision: Nesuhi Ertegun
Recording Engineer: Earle Brown (1-3,5), Johnny Cue (1-3,5), Tom Dowd (4,6)

*****

This is a strong recording from the Modern Jazz Quartet, with inventive versions of John Lewis’ “Vendome,” Ray Brown’s “Pyramid,” Jim Hall’s “Romaine,” and Lewis’ famous “Django,” along with cooking jams on “How High the Moon” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

The MJQ had become a jazz institution by this time, but they never lost their creative edge, and their performances (even on the re-makes) are quite stimulating, enthusiastic, and fresh.
~Scott Yanow[allmusic.com]

*****

The Modern Jazz Quartet & Guests – Third Stream Music (1957-60)

02 Third Stream Music

Track list:

01 De Capo
02 Fine
03 Exposure
04 Sketch
05 Conversation

Personnel:

#1,2: Recorded at “Music Inn”, Lenox, MA; August 24, 1957
Milt Jackson – vibes
John Lewis – piano
Ralph Peña – bass
Connie Kay – drums
Jimmy Giuffre – clarinet, tenor sax
Jim Hall – guitar

#3: Recorded in New York City; January 15, 1960
Milt Jackson – vibes
John Lewis – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Connie Kay – drums
Bill McColl – clarinet
Bob Di Domenica – flute
Manny Zegler – bassoon
Paul Ingraham – French horn
Joe Tekula – cello
Betty Glamann – harp
Gunther Schuller – cond.

#4,5: Recorded in New York City; September 23, 1959
Milt Jackson – vibes
John Lewis – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Connie Kay – drums
Beaux Arts String Quartet:
Gerard Tarack – 1st violin
Alan Martin – 2nd violin
Carl Eberd – viola
Joe Tekula – cello
Conducted by John Lewis (#4) & Gunther Schuller (#5)

Released: 1960
Label: Atlantic 1345

Supervision: Nesuhi Ertegun
Recording Engineer: Tom Dowd, Earle Brown, Frank Abbey

*****

This Atlantic release has some unusual performances by the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Two selections (“Da Capo” and “Fine”) combine the MJQ, which is comprised of vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Connie Kay, with the Jimmy Giuffre 3 (Giuffre on clarinet and tenor, with guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Ralph Pena) on “Exposure”; six chamber classical musicians add color, and a pair of other numbers (“Conversation” and the very successful “Sketch”) match the MJQ with the Beaux Arts String Quartet.

There is plenty of thought-provoking music on this disc even if the idea of creating a third stream between jazz and classical music never came to pass.
~Scott Yanow[allmusic.com]

*****

The Modern Jazz Quartet – The Modern Jazz Quartet & Orchestra (1960)

03 MJQ and Orchestra

Track list:

01 Around the Blues
02 Divertimento
03 England’s Carol
04 Concertino for Jazz Quartet & Orchestra – First Movement
05 Concertino for Jazz Quartet & Orchestra – Second Movement
06 Concertino for Jazz Quartet & Orchestra – Third Movement

Personnel:

Milt Jackson – vibes
John Lewis – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Connie Kay – drums
Unnamed Orchestra conducted by Werner Heider (#02) and Gunther Schuller

Recorded: Stuttgart, West Germany; June 3 & 4, 1960
Released: 1960
Label: Atlantic 1359

Supervision: Nesuhi Ertegun

Liner Notes: Gunther Schuller

Cover illustration: Sam Kirson
*****

The Modern Jazz Quartet – Lonely Woman (1962)

04 Lonely Woman

Track list:

01 Lonely Woman
02 Animal Dance
03 New York 19
04 Belkis
05 Why Are You Blue?
06 Fugato
07 Lamb, Leopard (If I Were Eve -from “Original Sin”)
08 Trieste

Personnel:

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

Recorded: New York City; January 24, 25 & 29 and February 2, 1962
Released: 1962
Label: Atlantic 1381

Supervision: Nesuhi Ertegun
Recording Engineer: Ton Dowd, Phil Iehle

Liner notes: Raymond Mouly (translated from the French)

Cover Photo: Richard Heimann
Cover design: Loring Eutemey

*****

The Modern Jazz Quartet & Guests – The Sheriff (1963)

05 The Sheriff

Track list:

01 The Sheriff
02 In a Crowd
03 Bachianas Brasileiras
04 Mean to Me
05 Natural Affection
06 Donnie’s Theme
07 Carnival (Bonfá, Jungnickel)

Personnel:

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

Recorded in New York City ; May 16 [#3-7] & 17 [#1] 1963; December 20 [#2], 1963
Released: 1964
Label: Atlantic 1414

Supervision: Nesuhi Ertegun
Recording Engineer Phil Iehle, Tom Dowd

Liner Notes: Leonard Feather

Cover: Stanislaw Zagorski

****

Recorded in 1963, The Sheriff features the Modern Jazz Quartet in fine swinging form.

The program is not as sharply focused as on some of the earlier Atlantic releases, but it is compelling nonetheless.

There are four originals by pianist John Lewis, including the fleeting, bluesy title cut, and the moody, spacious “In a Crowd,” — originally composed for the 1961 film A Milanese Story.

Its stepped-up time signature and series of phrases played by Milt Jackson grounds the tune in blues, but Lewis’ solo feels more like a solo trumpet breezing through the center.

The set includes Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras,” a classical piece the quartet first performed with guitarist Laurindo Almeida.

Bassist Percy Heath is stellar here, playing both arco and pizzicato and alternately moving the work forward with deftness and precision.

Lewis and Jackson engage in gorgeous counterpoint throughout.

It’s knotty, but exotic and beautiful.

Another Latin-based work here is Luiz Bonfa’s brilliant “Carnival,” which closes the set.

Jackson’s melodic interplay with Connie Kay’s brushwork is subtle and rich, moving through a series of verses before Jackson takes it to the blues in his solo.

Lewis keeps the pulse as Heath underscores the backbeat.

It took a long while for this one to come out on CD in the United States, but Wounded Bird issued it in April of 2005.
~Thom Jurek[allmusic]

*****

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