Modern Jazz Quartet

From Academic Kids

The Modern Jazz Quartet was established in 1952 by Milt Jackson (vibraphone), John Lewis (piano, musical director), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). Connie Kay replaced Clarke in 1955.

Jackson, Lewis, and Clarke had originally played together in a quartet while in the Dizzy Gillespie orchestra from 1946 to 1950. Together with Ray Brown they played in interludes designed to give the trumpeters time to recover from the challenging upper register trumpet parts. The same group recorded as the Milt Jackson Quartet in 1951.

Jackson and Lewis originally shared the role of musical director but Lewis eventually took over the entire responsibility of this position.

The group occasionally played with classical musicians, but its repertoire consisted mainly of bop and Swing. Among its original compositions are "Django" by Lewis (a tribute to the French jazz guitar player Django Reinhardt) and "Bags' Groove" by Jackson (named after his nickname).

Jackson left the group in 1974 because he was tired of touring, and the group soon disbanded. In 1981 the group reorganized. Their last recording was issued in 1993. Heath, the last surviving member, died in 2005.


2003 Interview with Percy Heath (http://www.culturekiosque.com/jazz/portrait/MJQ.html) (registration required)

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