These 19556-58 German recordings show the outstanding performances of the early MJQ.
The Modern Jazz Quartet, Germany 1957-1958 “Lost Tapes” [TrackList follows] – SWR>>Music, Jazz Haus mono 101 731 *****:
Pianist-composer John Lewis, in these early recordings, turns the four musicians of the quartet into a sensitive instrument which vibrates in the same universe of sound, achieving a communion unique in the jazz world. His idea was to present a unique style that incorporated both jazz and classical elements with great polish and artistry. And this they did. This is really cool jazz by players who really know the music.
There are some nice variations in the German recordings from the U.S. releases, which make the disc worth getting. There is an interlude by John Lewis on “Ralph’s New Blues,” which presents this MJQ classic in a whole new light. On “Midsommer,” the MJQ is heard together with the Harald Banter Ensemble in a third stream style. Then there is their early interpretation of my favorite jazz tune, John Lewis’ “Django.”
Ralph’s New Blues, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, Willow Weep for Me, I’ll Remember April, Misömmer, Bluesology, Django, Sun Dance, Cortege. You Go to my Head, I Can’t Get Started, Tenderly, J.B. Blues