Modern Jazz Quartet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also known as The Milt Jackson Quartet,
The Quartet, The MJQ
Genres Jazz
Years active 1946–1974, 1981–1993
Labels Savoy, Prestige (UK Esquire), Atlantic (UK London), Apple, Douglas



Milt Jackson
John Lewis
Percy Heath
Connie Kay

The Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) was a jazz combo established in 1952 that played music influenced by classical, cool jazz, blues and bebop. The band performed over a 40-year span with only one personnel change. For the majority of their career, the group was composed of John Lewis (piano and musical director), Milt Jackson (vibraphone), Percy Heath (double bass) and Connie Kay (drums).

Under Lewis’s leadership, they carved their own niche by specializing in elegant, restrained music that used sophisticated counterpoint, yet nonetheless retained a strong blues feel. Lewis firmly believed that J.S. Bach and the blues were compatible, combining classical form with jazz improvisation and polyphony. The band was also noted for its ability to play alongside a variety of other groups. Initially active into the 1970s until Jackson quit in 1974 due to creative disagreement and frustration with their busy touring schedule, the MJQ reformed intermittently into the 1990s.

In 1974, Jackson departed from the group and they ceased to play until the early 1980s when they began reuniting periodically. The MJQ released their final recording in 1993. When Kay died in November 1994, the group stopped reuniting; five years later in October 1999, Milt Jackson died, followed by John Lewis in March 2001 and Percy Heath in April 2005.


First dates are of recording, in parentheses are dates of release

1951-52: The Quartet (Savoy) – reissued on several labels under different titles (First Recordings 1952, Modern Jazz Quartet, Anthology)
1952: The Modern Jazz Quartet (Prestige)
1953: 1953: An Exceptional Encounter (The Jazz Factory, 2001) – with Ben Webster
1955: Concorde (Prestige)
1953-55: Django (Prestige, 1956)
1956: Fontessa (Atlantic)
1956: The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn (Atlantic) – with Jimmy Giuffre
1958: The Modern Jazz Quartet Plays No Sun in Venice (Atlantic)
1957: The Modern Jazz Quartet (Atlantic)
1957: The Modern Jazz Quartet and the Oscar Peterson Trio at the Opera House (Verve)
1958: The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn Volume 2 (Atlantic) – with Sonny Rollins
1959: Pyramid (Atlantic)
1959: Music from Odds Against Tomorrow (United Artists) – also released as Patterns (United Artists, 1960)
1960: European Concert (Atlantic)
1960: Dedicated to Connie (Atlantic, 1995)
1960: The Modern Jazz Quartet & Orchestra (Atlantic)
1960: Third Stream Music (Atlantic) with guests including the Jimmy Giuffre 3
1962: The Comedy (Atlantic)
1962: Lonely Woman (Atlantic)
1963: In a Crowd (Atlantic)
1963: 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival (Douglas, 1997)
1964: The Sheriff (Atlantic)
1964: Collaboration (Atlantic) – with Laurindo Almeida
1964-65: The Modern Jazz Quartet Plays George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Atlantic)
1965: Jazz Dialogue (Atlantic) – with The All Star Jazz Band
1966: Concert in Japan ’66 (Atlantic/Jazz Forever, Japan only)
1966: Blues at Carnegie Hall (Atlantic)
1966: Place Vendôme (Philips) – with The Swingle Singers
1967: Live at the Lighthouse (Atlantic)
1969: Under the Jasmin Tree (Apple)
1969: Space (Apple)
1971: Plastic Dreams (Atlantic)
1972: The Legendary Profile (Atlantic)
1973: In Memoriam (Little David)
1974: Blues on Bach (Atlantic)
1974: The Complete Last Concert (Atlantic) – includes The Last Concert and More from the Last Concert
1981: Reunion at Budokan 1981 (Pablo)
1982: Together Again: Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival ’82 (Pablo)
1984: Echoes (Pablo)
1985: Topsy: This One’s for Basie (Pablo)
1987: Three Windows (Atlantic)
1988: For Ellington (East West)
1992: A Night at the Opera (Jazz Door, 1994)
1992-93: MJQ & Friends: A 40th Anniversary Celebration (Atlantic)