Modern Jazz Quartet

The Modern Jazz Quartet (or short: MJQ ) was an American jazz formation.

History of the group

It was - arising from the Milt Jackson Quartet - 1952 by John Lewis ( piano ), Milt Jackson ( vibraphone), Percy Heath ( bass) and Kenny Clarke ( drums). Jackson, Lewis and Clarke made ​​from 1946 to 1950 - originally with Ray Brown - the rhythm section of Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and distributed during lengthy brass samples first time making music together. Then the quartet in performances of Gillespie orchestra was as a band in the band turned out ( which played while the wind is a break splurged ), but also acted as Milt Jackson Quartet, with Heath instead of Brown. When the four musicians 1952, the Modern Jazz Quartet as a cooperative band newly formed, cooperation between the former principal soloist Milt Jackson and John Lewis, now musical director and main composer was changed.

In 1954 the group won the Down Beat Critics Poll for the best combo recording of the year. Kenny Clarke left the group in 1955; he was replaced by Connie Kay. In 1957 they were on their first European tour and gave 88 concerts there until 1958, inter alia, also an appearance at the Donaueschingen Music Festival (Album Donaueschingen Jazz Concert). This was followed by guest tours through Japan and Australia and then annually worldwide tours. The quartet went again and again for " Holiday " apart, so that the members could also work with other projects and groups.

In the summer of 1974, the group split, but gave further concerts, for example, in Germany and at Carnegie Hall. The band took place in 1981 back together and played, among others in Germany in 1990. One of the longest-lived of the jazz combos finally ended by the death of Kay 1994 ( Jackson died in 1999, Lewis 2001, Heath 2005). Their last recording was released in 1993.

Importance and collaborations

The group's success lay partly in opposing disposition of Milt Jackson and John Lewis: Was Jackson instinctively playing blue -based musician with an expansive, sparkling way of playing, so John Lewis was a discreet swinging consistently economically gambling academics. The recognition of the MJQ is also due to the unique combination of cool jazz and European-influenced chamber music with joints (eg on Vendome and Concorde ) and other classical forms, which many people attracted particularly in Europe in the concert halls, did not hear any jazz until then. In several projects, the Modern Jazz Quartet contributed, especially in the 1950s, also contribute to the development of the Third Stream.

( Called the " bags" ) to original compositions by the group include Afternoon in Paris and Django Lewis ( Tribute to Django Reinhardt ), Bags' Groove by Jackson, The Golden Striker ( from the album No Sun in Venice in 1958, the music for the film by Roger Vadim ), Delaunay's dilemma ( Charles Delaunay, on the album Django ) by Lewis.

They recorded with the Swingle Singers ( Place Vendome ), with Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Desmond and Laurindo Almeida, with the New York Chamber Symphony (1987). For forty-year anniversary of the formation they played ( documented on A 40th Anniversary Celebration) with guests such as Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis and Phil Woods.

Discography (selection)

  • M.J.Q. (1952 ), Prestige Records
  • Concorde (1955), Prestige ( the first with Connie Kay dr)
  • Django (1956 ), Prestige
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet (1956 ), Atlantic ( with Bags' Groove )
  • Fontessa (1956 ), Atlantic ( with Versaille )
  • Pyramid (1959 ), Atlantic ( with Vendome )
  • Germany 1956-1958 ( Jazz House )
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet featuring Laurindo Almeida (1965 ) (Atlantic )
  • Under The Jasmin Tree (1969 ) (Apple Records)
  • Space (1969 ) (Apple Records)
  • Plastic Dreams (1971 ), Atlantic
  • Blues on Bach ( 1973), Atlantic
  • The Complete Last Concert (1974 )
  • Together again - Montreux 1982 Pablo
  • Three Windows (1987 ) Atlantic
  • MJQ 40, 4 CDs, Atlantic ( compilation )

The group took first in prestige and thereafter for Atlantic Records on, interrupted by two albums in the late 1960s for the Beatles' label Apple Records ( Under The Jasmin Tree 1969 Space 1969).


  • Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings of the Modern Jazz Quartet 1956-64 - ( Mosaic - 2011) - 7 CDs with Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath, Connie Kay and Jimmy Giuffre, Jim Hall, Ralph Peña, Sonny Rollins, Gunther Schuller, cond, Diahann Carroll voc, Laurindo Almeida