With their cool, group-oriented sound, bop-inflected improvisations, and classical chamber aesthetics, the Modern Jazz Quartet rose to prominence in the '50s, expanding the jazz paradigm and bridging the gap between smoky jazz clubs and prestigious concert halls. Led by pianist John Lewis, the MJQ initially featured vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Kenny Clarke (joining later were Percy Heath and Connie Kay). One of the first of the classical-influenced chamber jazz ensembles, the quartet distinguished themselves with textured group interplay and virtuosic improvisational dexterity, skills carried over from the members' previous work with such lauded jazz innovators as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk. The quartet issued a number of critically acclaimed albums and spawned a handful of classic ...
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