"Play Tchaikovsky" is based on the composers ballet The Nutcracker Suite and a hard swinging version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” appropriately entitled “Groove of the Sugar Plum Fairy” is amongst the highlights.
One of a series of sessions featuring Bob Belden's arrangements for the Classical Jazz Quartet, this volume focuses exclusively on one piece, Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto №2 in C Minor. As a result, this is by far the most ambitious project tackled by the quartet, though Kenny Barron, Stefon Harris, Ron Carter and Lewis Nash are more than up to the task.
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite has previously been arranged in a jazz setting by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, but Bob Belden's charts for the superb Classical Jazz Quartet (Kenny Barron, Stefon Harris, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash) are also worth investigating.The musicianship is at a high level throughout the session; Carter's fluid basslines and Nash's subtle percussion are essential to the date.
The names of Johann Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff do not necessarily conjure images and sounds of jazz in one's mind, that is until one has listened to recordings by the Classical Jazz Quartet. Although these musicians utilize the same instruments as the Modern Jazz Quartet, they are in no way clones or copycats of that groundbreaking group. They have very much their own sound and style. This is not surprising given the huge talent of the musicians involved; all four are virtuosos on their respective instruments. The themes, although composed in a different time and place, become excellent vehicles for complex, sometimes, bluesy, often swinging and always fresh improvisations in the hands of these musicians. And although one might think of any recording billed as "classical meets jazz" as background music, this music definitely is not. The double CD consists of the group's three previously released recordings, plus one bonus track featuring their interpretation of Handel's Hallelujah.
The Classical Jazz Quartet are a superstar group with great critical and commercial success. This disc features music mostly taken from their Bach and Tchaikovsky albums. It also features the unreleased "Hallelujah" from Handel's "Messiah" and is practically a CJQ greates.
In typical Fantasy Records aplomb, this four-CD set collects the eight albums which the Modern Jazz Quartet either mentored or collaborated on during their tenure at the commencement and nadir of their reign as jazz's premier chamber ensemble. Beginning with the 1952 issue of Modern Jazz Quartet/Milt Jackson Quintet recording (the earlier Milt Jackson Quartet sides are not here for obvious reasons, as the band did not commence its fully developed form on them) featuring original drummer Kenny Clarke before Connie Kay replaced him, and ending with This One's For Basie in 1985; the association the MJQ had with Prestige was a monumental one.
Spanning one of the few transitional periods for the Modern Jazz Quartet when Connie Kay replaced Kenny Clarke as the group's drummer, The Artistry of the Modern Jazz Quartet covers the years from 1952-1955. By this point in the group's career, John Lewis was largely overseeing the quartet's repertoire, penning the bulk of the original material. Indeed, on The Artistry Of, the pianist contributes six compositions to Milt Jackson's one (the excellent "Ralph's New Blues"). The set is balanced out by renditions of the most common of jazz standards in "Almost Like Falling in Love," "I'll Remember April," and "In a Sentimental Mood," and the work of more contemporary artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins…
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 remakes) are quite stimulating, enthusiastic, and fresh.
That sound. One group conceived it. Defined it. Perfected it. The Modern Jazz Quartet was certainly one of the most distinctive voices in the history of jazz, thanks to the unique qualities of personal expression and collective vision of its members Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Connie Kay (who had replaced original drummer Kenny Clarke by the time the band started recording this music). They were also exceptionally prolific during their tenure at Atlantic Records, producing 14 albums in eight years. And now, that MJQ sound gets the complete respect it deserves, thanks to our new box, The Complete 1956-1964 Modern Jazz Quartet Atlantic Studio Recordings.