Blues at Carnegie Hall is a live album by American jazz group the Modern Jazz Quartet featuring performances recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1966 at a benefit concert presented by The Manhattan School of Music and released on the Atlantic label.
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.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. A seminal album that defined the fresh sound of a whole new generation in jazz – that "third stream" movement that was different from the cool jazz of the west coast, and the fire of New York! The style here follows that same mix of jazz and higher-concept elements you'd hear on other Modern Jazz Quartet albums for Atlantic – but the music is expanded here with some great help from outside parties too.
Recorded at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York on November 25, 1974, The Modern Jazz Quartet comprised of vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath, pianist John Lewis and drummer Connie Kay are at their very best. Performing with their distinctive bebop, cool jazz and third-stream sound, a blend of jazz and classical influences, the quartet performs some of their greatest hits including “Bags’ Groove,” “Summertime,” “A Night in Tunisia” and “Django.” This audiophile recording by one of jazz’s finest small ensembles is an essential for any jazz collection.
Hailing from a trio of Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) sessions, Django (1955) contains some of the earliest sides that Milt Jackson (vibraphone), John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums) recorded for Prestige Records. Initially, the combo was part of Dizzy Gillespie's influential backing band and after a change in drummers (to Connie Kay), they continued as one of the more sophisticated aggregates of the post-bop era. The album commences with Lewis' sublime and serene title track "Django," dedicated to the memory of guitarist extraordinaire Django Reinhardt. This musical paean aptly recaptures the essence of Reinhardt's enigmatic gypsy-like nature, especially evident within Jackson's leads, which emerge from the thoughtful opening dirge with a refined, warm tone throughout.
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.
Having sponsored Ornette Coleman at the School of Jazz near Lennox, MA, pianist and composer John Lewis helped launch the controversial career of one of the last great innovators in jazz. Lewis' support of the ragtag Texas native was somewhat unique in jazz circles at the time and even surprising, especially considering the gulf between the classical jazz formality of his group the Modern Jazz Quartet and Coleman's radical notions of free improvisation. Nevertheless, Lewis not only saw in Coleman the first jazz genius since bebop's Parker, Gillespie, and Monk, but put pay to the praise with the MJQ's 1962 rendition of one of Coleman's most famous numbers, "Lonely Woman." (Along with Art Pepper's 1960 version of "Tears Inside," this was one of the earliest of Coleman covers done.)