The Comedy (Remastered) The Modern Jazz Quartet

Album info



Label: Vinyle Numérique

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Cool

Artist: The Modern Jazz Quartet

Album including Album cover


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FLAC 48 $ 11.30
  • 1Spanish Steps05:33
  • 2Columbine04:08
  • 3Pulcinella04:21
  • 4Pierrot03:19
  • 5La Cantatrice05:30
  • 6Harlequin06:51
  • 7Piazza Navona05:00
  • Total Runtime34:42

Info for The Comedy (Remastered)

"This is the type of album that led many bop purists to criticize the Modern Jazz Quartet (and John Lewis in particular) for being overly influenced by Western classical music. This album has seven of Lewis' compositions, episodic works arranged in a suite that portrays characters from a fictional Italian comedy based in the 1500s. Singer Diahann Carroll guests fairly effectively on "La Cantatrice." Despite being tied to a story, there are some strong improvisations from pianist Lewis and vibraphonist Milt Jackson on this unusual material. The release is not that essential but it is quite interesting." (Scott Yanow, AMG)

Milt Jackson, vibraphone
John Lewis, piano
Percy Heath, bass
Connie Kay, drums
Diahann Carroll, vocals (track 5)

Digitally remastered

The Modern Jazz Quartet were incredibly important in the development of jazz in the 1950s, and although they officially disbanded in 1974, they’ve reformed for both concerts and recordings several times since then, making them now an “evergreen” jazz band. It was not always so.

The Modern Jazz Quartet was originally formed as the Milt Jackson Quartet (which, conveniently, had the same initials, MJQ) and consisted of Jackson on vibraphone, John Lewis on piano, Percy Heath on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. Of these, Clarke was the veteran of the group, a drummer who had been at Minton’s after-hours club in 1939, where Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian and Clarke invented “bebop” or bop, a harmonically advanced and challenging kind of new jazz.

Clarke served in the Army during World War II, and there he met and became friends with John Lewis, who was fresh out of the University of New Mexico where he’d studied anthropology and music. In 1946 both joined the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, the only bop big band, and there they met vibist Milt Jackson. Until then only two jazz musicians were well known for playing this electrified xylophone, Lionel Hampton (famous for his work in the ’30s with Benny Goodman and a band leader himself in the ’40s) and Red Norvo (whose early ’50s trio with guitarist Tal Farlowe and bassist Charles Mingus catapulted him from the swing era into modern jazz). Jackson was the first to adapt the instrument to a bop context. And also in Gillespie’s band they met Ray Brown, a bassist who appears on some early MJQ recordings.

In 1948 and 1949 Lewis and Clarke were also participants in the Miles Davis Nonet sessions for Capitol which were later dubbed Birth of the Cool. The group, nominally fronted by Davis, was a composer/arranger’s band, showcasing the writing of Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, Gil Evans and John Carisi. Lewis contributed two originals and arranged three other pieces in the band’s repertoire. During this same period Jackson was making recordings for Blue Note, Prestige and Savoy, all small but important jazz labels.

The MJQ was formed in 1952; its first recording was the 10-inch Prestige album, Modern Jazz Quartet with Milt Jackson (PRLP-160), released in 1953, which is now valued at from $60 to $150, depending on condition. This was followed the same year by Modern Jazz Quartet, Volume 2 (PRLP-170), another 10-inch LP which has the same value. In 1955 the MJQ made two 12-inch albums, Concorde for Prestige (PRLP-7005) ($30 to $75), and Modern Jazz Quartet for Savoy (MG-12046) ($20 to $50). That year drummer Clarke dropped out and was replaced by Connie Kay, setting the personnel in place for the rest of the MJQ’s career.

But 1956 was the year in which everything came together for the group, and this was due to their signing with Atlantic Records. Atlantic was the reflection of the Ertegun brothers’ enthusiasms. The sons of Turkish diplomats, they loved R&B and jazz. Atlantic recorded Ray Charles, the Clovers, Ruth Brown, and a number of R&B groups for singles, and established an ambitious jazz program on LPs. Unlike Prestige and Savoy (and, to a lesser extent, Blue Note) – labels known for recording jam sessions – Atlantic spent time on preparations for each album, and many of Atlantic’s jazz albums were ambitious projects. (Source:

This album contains no booklet.

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