The Modern Jazz Quartet

2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West

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This CD contains one of the earliest live recordings by the Modern Jazz Quartet, taped for a Voice of America broadcast at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Although one hears a few extraneous noises from the stage, the overall sound quality is excellent, and the group is in top form. "How High the Moon" features a subdued introduction featuring Milt Jackson and Percy Heath's arco bass, before Connie Kay and John Lewis eventually make their respective entrances after it switches to a brisk bop setting. Lewis utilizes a modified waltz treatment for "'Round Midnight," while the fireworks fly in their version of "I'll Remember April." The very bluesy arrangement of "Willow Weep for Me" is yet another gem. The performance also includes Lewis' signature tune, "Django"; another popular Lewis work, "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West"; and "Versailles" (taped earlier that year for Atlantic, though this seems to be its only other recording). Jackson is represented by "Ralph's New Blues," which also became a staple in the group's repertoire. Released for the first time by the bootleg label Viper's Nest, it is now out of print and very much worth acquiring.

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