The Great Modern Jazz Quartet in a 1987 Concert
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is some sadness in watching this wonderful concert DVD of the MJQ recorded in 1987 at a jazz festival in Freiburg, Germany, because they are all gone now. Percy Heath, the elegant bassist, was the last to die, just last year (2005), John Lewis only four years before that. This group grew out of the rhythm section of the 1940s and 50s Dizzy Gillespie band. Their official founding was in 1952 but they had been playing together unofficially for some time before that. The combination of Milt Jackson's bebop vibraphone and John Lewis's classically restrained piano, backed by Heath on bass (was there ever a bassist who was so consistently in tune?) and Connie Kay on drums, was an unforgettable sound. I came to this group from a completely classical background, attracted by its gentle persuasion, and it has been one of my favorite groups for almost fifty years now. John Lewis managed to put classical forms and techniques to use in his numbers, such as 'A Day in Dubrovnik' included in this concert, and that was my 'hook' into this group's distinctive style.
For those of you familiar with the group's repertoire it might be helpful to know what pieces they play here. They are Ellington's 'Rockin' in Rhythm', Jackson's 'Echoes', Lewis's 'Kansas City Breaks' (I particularly like this one because I lived in KC for forty years), 'Django', 'Summertime', 'Bags' Groove' (Milt Jackson's nickname was 'Bags'), and 'A Day in Dubrovnik'. To quote what someone once said about Milt Jackson, but applied by me to the whole group: 'If [they] ever did once play a non-swinging note, it must have been in private.'
The music of four distinguished looking gentlemen in tuxedos calmly playing with all the dignity of a classical string quartet is a way into jazz for anyone reading this review who is unfamiliar with the genre, and I'd advise them to get this DVD and begin enjoying one of the great groups of all time, and at the top of their game. And for those of you who already know the MJQ's work, no recommendation is needed other than to tell you that this is neatly filmed and recorded and is a marvelous example of this great group's work.
William Cook | Australia | 09/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a truly great disc. Wonderful jazz by the legends!
The M.J.Q. really gel at this concert. One number alone,
"Echoes" is worth the cost of this disc. The rest of the tunes are an added bonus!"