The Modern Jazz Quartet

Live 1956

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No source is listed, and the personnel are Jackson, Lewis, Heath, and Connie Kay on drums, but the sound is definitely live, and professionally miked and taped (there's some audience ambience, as though this is a club date, probably from Europe). The performance is an dazzling mixture of precision and free-flowing experimentation, and as engaging as any of the group's official albums from this era. From Jackson's enchanting workout on the vibes on the opening "2 degrees east, 3 degrees west," there's not a note out of place on this extraordinary account of the group's classic early years. "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" is also worth the price of the disc, just for Lewis's gentle account of the opening and development of the bopping middle section. It's not only a good disc, but an okay place to start listening to the quartet.

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