cool jazz, cool guests, classic MJQ

MJQ and Friends (Atlantic Jazz)

Modern Jazz Quartet

By Todd Hildreth

When the "cool" wave of jazz hit us in the '50s, it came from four directions: the quirky populism of the Dave Brubeck quartet, the eccentric intellectualism of Lennie Tristano, the instrumental styles of Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and others, and the stately swinging grace of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Of all these, the Modern Jazz Quartet has shown the greatest staying power, not simply because they have survived all these years as a working unit, but because they have stayed true to their original concept without a single diversion.

This CD celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Modern Jazz Quartet. The celebration is marked by several guest appearances by artists ranging from Bobby McFerrin to Wynton Marsalis, and several stops in between. Each artist plays within the quartet's chamber jazz concept. Personal favorites are "All the Things You Are" with Phil Woods and "Cherokee" with Wynton Marsalis. Once viewed as an experimental group, the Modern Jazz Quartet is now an institution in jazz. This is a good CD to recommend to anyone who has yet to hear MJQ, and an essential for the hardcore follower.