Modern Jazz Quartet: With a Classical Air
19th March 2018
Label: Speakers Corner
Not given enough recognition, this jazz quartet always sparkled with talent and bristled with style. It featured pianist John Lewis plus, on vibes and flexible wrists, the one and only Milt Jackson. Ray Brown a renowned bassist fitted easily into the group which was initially completed by Kenny Clarke on drums. In the early days, they had a pretty good education as the rhythm section behind Dizzy Gillespie and then the four became an independent group in 1952.
By the time this 1956 LP was released things had evolved. Kenny Clarke had departed and his drum stool was filled by Connie Kay. The Modern Jazz Quartet went forward from there.
This LP combined the underlying bop that reflected the quartet’s roots but it also took classical structures which illustrated the group’s versatility. The Modern Jazz Quartet in itself sounded respectable and its nod to the classic structures were often cited as giving jazz an extra air of integrity. It was that fusion of styles that drew in the ear and then drew it back to explore once more.
The mastering for this LP is quite brilliant. In fact, the high quality is heard immediately when, during the early stages of the first track, the secondary percussion is beat out of, what sounds like, a triangle. This is interspersed with a piano, with a dominant melody from the vibesl and the cymbal taps from the drums.
This conglomeration of light and high frequency sounds, provides ample evidence of the clarity and sheer transparent nature of the mastering. Reverb tails extend forever, the low noise aspect of the background allows subtle vibrations to be heard, the piano – a terribly chaotic instrument if mastered poorly – is tight and flowing here while the cymbals are delicate throughout. Frankly, the better your system, the more breath-taking is this LP.
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