Saturday, December 12, 2015

Modern Jazz Quartet - Blues On Bach

In the MJQ's early years, critics often found something incompatible between John Lewis's European classical leanings, particularly the baroque, and Milt Jackson's unfettered gifts improvising over bop-blues changes. This 1973 date is structured by that dichotomy, alternating between Lewis's compositions (based on some of Bach's best-known melodies) and a series of original blues, the first three by Lewis, the last by Jackson. Lewis emphasizes the contrast by playing harpsichord on the Bach tunes. His treatment of Bach can drift toward the merely pretty, as in his handling of "Sleepers Awake," but there's a genuine beauty in "Don't Stop This Train" and "Tears from the Children," based on Bach keyboard works. Jackson's fluent solos on the blues are a continuing delight, while Lewis demonstrates once again that he, too, is a musician imbued with the same roots, inserting a telling variation on "St. James Infirmary" into "Blues in A Minor."- by Stuart Broomer

This album has an interesting concept, alternating four original blues with five adaptations of melodies from classical works by Bach. The Modern Jazz Quartet had long been quite adept in both areas, and despite a certain lack of variety on this set (alternating back and forth between the two styles somewhat predictably), the music is largely enjoyable. Vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis (doubling here on harpsichord), bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Connie Kay were still all very much in their musical prime during the 21st year of the MJQ's existence. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Modern Jazz Quartet
Album: Blues On Bach
Year: 1974
Label: Atlantic
Runtime: 41:27

Tracks:
1.  Regret? (John Lewis) 2:04
2.  Blues In B Flat (John Lewis) 4:56
3.  Rise Up In The Morning (John Lewis) 3:28
4.  Blues In A Minor (John Lewis) 7:53
5.  Precious Joy (John Lewis) 3:12
6.  Blues In C Minor (Milt Jackson) 7:58
7.  Don't Stop This Train (John Lewis) 1:45
8.  Blues In H (B) (Milt Jackson) 5:46
9.  Tears From The Children (Johann Sebastian Bach) 4:25

Personnel:
Percy Heath (Double Bass)
Connie Kay (Drums, Percussion)
John Lewis (Piano, Harpsichord)
Milt Jackson (Vibraphone)

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