Modern Jazz Quartet: The Montreux Years

jazz live performances

A Retrospective Look at the Legendary Band’s Live Performances (1985-93)


The Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) has had its fair share of critics since its inception. However, the passage of time has proven the band’s undeniable talent and artistry. “The Montreux Years,” an album featuring live recordings of the Modern Jazz Quartet, showcases the band’s mastery in front of enthusiastic Montreux Jazz Festival audiences.

The Montreux Legacy

The album consists of eleven performances recorded between 1985 and 1993 in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival. These recordings serve as a testament to the MJQ’s musical prowess and ability to captivate audiences with their unique blend of jazz.

Memorable Performances

Notable tracks include:

  • Ko-Ko: A rendition of Duke Ellington’s dramatic piece, displaying the band’s tight interplay and soloing skills.
  • A Day in Dubrovnik: An impressionistic composition by John Lewis, inspired by the band’s visit to the Croatian coast.
  • Django: A heartfelt tribute to Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, showcasing the group’s emotional depth.
  • Blues in A Minor: A bluesy track demonstrating Percy Heath’s bass mastery and Lewis’s minimalist piano playing.
  • Bags’ Groove: A driving rendition of Milt Jackson’s classic tune, highlighting the band’s skill with 12-bar blues.

Cinematic Connections

The MJQ also contributed to several film soundtracks, with tracks like The Golden Striker (from No Sun in Venice) and One Never Knows (from Odds Against Tomorrow) featured in the album.

Exploring New Ground

The album also includes a variety of other tracks, such as Le Cannet, an impressionistic piece inspired by a hill village on the Côte d’Azur, and Nature Boy, a contemplative solo performance by Milt Jackson.

Rhythmic Excitement

The group’s ability to create excitement is evident in their performance of Rockin’ In Rhythm, a thrilling big band-style piece with fiery drum breaks.

A Fitting Tribute

The album closes with Milt Jackson’s True Blues, a mid-tempo swinger that showcases the band’s dynamic skills and leaves the audience going wild. This album is dedicated to the memory of Claude Nobs, the legendary founder and director of the Montreux Festival, who died tragically after a skiing accident in 2013.

Album Credits

The Modern Jazz Quartet consists of Milt Jackson (vibraphone), John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and Connie Kay (drums). These performances were recorded live at concerts at the Casino and Auditorium Stravinski at Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, between 1985 and 1993. The album’s excellent audio restoration and mastering were done by Tony Cousins in London.

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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.