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Pyramid – The Modern Jazz Quartet (1959-60) – HDTT DVD-Audio and Atlantic CD

Terrific fidelity for Modern Jazz Quartet lovers but a short program.

Pyramid – The Modern Jazz Quartet (1959-60) [TrackList follows] – HDTT DVD-Audio (10/25/90) and Atlantic (LP1325) ****:

HDTT began by making very high-quality transfers to DVD-Audios of two-track tapes (which also play on most DVD decks). Then they moved into 4-track tapes, and this one is from an Atlantic 4-track tape played on highly advanced gear. Lately they have even moved into transfers of original stereo LPs as well as multichannel Blu-rays and downloads. Their site search failed to find their cover for this 192K/24-bit DVD-A disc, so the cover here is of the original Atlantic CD, which Amazon does have, and which is different. It also has seven additional tracks that this disc lacks, as indicated below.

The personnel are the same thruout, and the MJQ has long been one of my favorite jazz groups for their unusual John Lewis-originated music and their stage presence of formal rigor – just like a classical quartet. They were a reference point that widened the world of jazz, to be accepted even in conservatories. The long title number is in 3/4 time and all the music is terrific. There have been many different format recordings of the MJQ. I have a 10 1/2-inch reel of some of their prerecorded open reel tapes, plus even a 16rpm vinyl (when that was trying to find a market). This HDTT one, short as it is, is surely the epitome of sonic achievement for the MJQ on recordings. One critic even said it was the best jazz recording ever made. The additional tracks were recorded in between the sessions for Pyramid, and consist of all John Lewis compositions, including their mono 1954 original version of his Django – my personal favorite jazz number.

So you have your choice: more $ and much better sound, or more music and much poorer sound for less $.

TrackList:

1. Vendome 2:30
2. Pyramid 10:46
3. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) 5:02
4. Django 5:23
5. How High The Moon 6:15
6. Romaine 4:50

Also on Atlantic CD:
7. Skating In Central Park 6:11
8. No Happiness For Slater 5:23
9. A Social Call 4:50
10. Cue 9 5:04
11. A Cold Wind Is Blowing 7:33
12. Odds Against Tomorrow 3:36
13. Django 7:04 (mono)

—John Henry

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