Modern Jazz Quartet – ‘The Montreux Years’ (rec. 1985-93)

modern jazz quartet montreux jazz festival

Origins of the Modern Jazz Quartet

The Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) was initially called the Milt Jackson Quartet, but the name change was met with mixed reactions. Critics felt their sound was too formal, restrained, and baroque. However, the talented quartet, consisting of Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Connie Kay, were masters of their craft, blending swing, tension, and blues. Over time, their popularity helped overcome initial hostility.

The Montreux Years Album

‘The Montreux Years’ album, featuring eleven live performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, showcases the MJQ’s unique sound. Some notable tracks include their rendition of Duke Ellington’s ‘Ko-Ko,’ Lewis’s ‘A Day In Dubrovnik,’ and ‘Django,’ a tribute to guitarist Django Rheinhardt.

A Globetrotting Experience

The MJQ traveled extensively, visiting places like Dubrovnik on the Croatian coast, inspiring Lewis’s composition ‘A Day In Dubrovnik.’ Throughout their journey, they continued to refine their performances, as seen in ‘Django’ and ‘Blues In A Minor.’

Mastering the Blues

The MJQ excelled in 12-bar blues, evidenced by tracks such as Milt Jackson’s ‘Bags’ Groove’ and ‘True Blues.’ Despite countless performances, Jackson and Lewis consistently introduced new phrases and techniques.

Film Scores and Soundtracks

The MJQ contributed to several European movie soundtracks, such as ‘No Sun In Venice’ and ‘Odds Against Tomorrow.’ Tracks from these films, like ‘The Golden Striker’ and ‘One Never Knows,’ can be found on the album.

Inspirations from the South-of-France

‘Le Cannet,’ inspired by a village on the Côte d’Azur, showcases Lewis’s piano skills and Milt Jackson’s prowess on the vibraphone. Jackson also performs a mesmerizing solo rendition of Eden Ahbez’s ‘Nature Boy.’

Crowd-Pleasing Performances

The Quartet’s live performances featured captivating solos and high-energy renditions of songs like ‘Rockin’ In Rhythm.’ Listeners can appreciate their incredible musicianship, despite the occasional offbeat clapping from the audience.

Album Credits and Dedication

‘The Montreux Years’ album is dedicated to the memory of Claude Nobs, the legendary founder and director of the Montreux Festival, who passed away in 2013. Tony Cousins handled the excellent audio restoration and mastering in London.

Members and Recording Details

The Modern Jazz Quartet members include Milt Jackson on vibraphone, John Lewis on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and Connie Kay on drums. The album features recordings from concerts at the Casino and Auditorium Stravinski at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland between 1985 and 1993.

About Me

I’m Dr. Miles Beaumont from the charming town of York in the UK. I’ve spent over three decades as a medical doctor, helping people and contributing to important research. I graduated from Oxford University, and ever since, I’ve devoted myself to improving the health and lives of others.

When I’m not practicing medicine, you’ll find me soaking up the world of jazz music. It’s been a passion of mine since I turned 30, and I’ve been an active part of York’s jazz scene ever since. Whether it’s going to local gigs, listening to records at home, or just enjoying the rhythmic and improvisational magic of jazz, it’s a big part of who I am.