The Modern Jazz Quartet

Modern Jazz Quartet [1952]

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This album is certain to be placed in the MJQ section of any shop that carries it. In reality though, only four of the cuts here feature the permanent, stand-alone, 1952-vintage Modern Jazz Quartet; the other eight having been done in the summer and fall of 1951, when they were still known as the Milt Jackson Quartet, with Jackson providing all of the original material. The differences are so subtle as to be indistinguishable -- Milt Jackson and John Lewis are on every cut, while Al Johns subs for Kenny Clarke on drums, and Ray Brown precedes Percy Heath on four of the tracks. Clarke's drumming is more impressive in its quiet way, but Ray Brown's bass work is simpler and more forceful. The sound is fair, with some hints of distortion that's been repaired, on this otherwise nicely done reissue. [The 2003 reissue on Savoy Jazz changed the title of the original album to Beginnings and added two bonus tracks: a 1949 version of "Bluesology" by Milt Jackson, and a large group featuring Billy Mitchell on sax and Roy Haynes on drums, and a 1954 version of "Blues Mood" by Kenny Clarke with Milt Jackson and Percy Heath.]

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