Modern Jazz Quartet: Pyramid

Album review
Modern Jazz Quartet: Pyramid

Modern Jazz Quartet


Label: Pure Pleasure
Media: LP
Genre: Jazz

This pristine vinyl reissue of MJQ’s 1960 Pyramid will be welcomed by all who value the most exalted productions of midcentury-modern artistry. It’s also an ideal demonstration of what made the group—here just the four key members without guests or collaborators—so central to the late-50s-early-60s jazz scene: an inimitable blend of transparency, contrapuntal interplay, cut-glass perfection, understated “cool,” meditative inwardness, swinging rhythmic drive, and the immediately identifiable pairing of Milt Jackson’s shimmering, quicksilver vibes with John Lewis’ spare, sharply-etched piano that, an aural analogue of misty Chinese landscape painting, generates suggestive outlines as much from silence as from sound. The group’s unmistakable signature is heard in the catchy fugal entrances of “Vendome,” the nimble riffs and ceremonious chorale of Lewis’ “Django,” the wayward but toe-tapping detours in Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” and the eight-minute rendering of Jim Hall’s “Romaine,” where the exquisite melodic lines are entwined with lapidary elegance and illuminated by a bittersweet nostalgia that haunts the listener long after the music is over.

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  • primary artist, Modern Jazz Quartet

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