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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


DVD
The Modern Jazz Quartet
40 Years of MJQ

TDK DV JMJQ40

Recorded live at JazzGipfel – Stuttgart 1992


Crotchet

  1. Three Windows
  2. Sketch
  3. Alexander’s Fuge
  4. Adagio from Concerto de Aranjuez
  5. A Day in Dubrovnik

John Lewis – Piano
Milt Jackson – Vibraphone
Percy Heath – Bass
Mickey Rocker – Drums (Connie Kay was indisposed)
The Chamber Orchestra "Arcata" Stuttgart conducted by Patrick Strub

The first piece consists of three themes from a film, but ‘The Golden Striker’ is the dominant theme. Milt Jackson as always is immaculate on vibes and he solos well against the strings of the orchestra, Percy Heath’s superb Bass playing is well to the fore and so is the superb sound that the MJQ as a whole makes. Unfortunately the sleeve note with this excellent DVD is not very informative regarding the programme or the performers.

The second track was originally scored for the MJQ with a string quartet. John Lewis’s improvisations are as usual clean, very melodic and beautifully executed. Milt Jackson was always the out and out swinger in the band and he does not disappoint here.

Alexander’s Fage is played with a larger ensemble, the strings of the orchestra are joined by the wind section,. John Lewis solos with conviction, Rocker who looks very stiff really sounds very good, I can well imagine that even for a musician of his quality, this was quite a challenge. Connie Kay was very well established in the chair.

The overall sound of the MJQ is something unique in jazz, Everything has a measured and careful sound about and it is beautifully balanced. It really was a one off.

Adagio was written as the slow movement of a guitar concerto, but the melody has become part of popular music. It might have been written for the MJQ to demonstrate their unique sound.

Does the presence of the Chamber orchestra fit in? The MJQ have always maintained a certain formality about their music and that is the key to the fit. It all works well and Patrick Strub gives a confident performance as MD.

The last piece A Day in Dubrovnik has several themes and is an attractive and well scored composition.

The MJQ always delivered a quality performance and as Milt Jackson and Connie Kay have passed on, I recommend this DVD as an excellent example of their work.

 

Don Mather

 

 

 
 
 
 



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