The Modern Jazz Quartet Complete Prestige & Pablo Recordings delivers four generous CDs totaling 54 tracks and a comprehensive explanation of their career on the two labels with a high quality beautifully illustrated booklet. Granted this is a lot of music to listen to in one sitting although when it is someone as significant as MJQ it immediately becomes an unforgettable jazz experience after the first disc.
As disc one serves as a great warm up to their career, disc two and three offer several legendary live tracks (recorded in Japan and Switzerland) for those of us that never had the experience of seeing them live in concert. The names reverberate and ring with consistency in the annals of jazz music to this day.... Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Kenny Clarke, Percy Heath and Connie Kay, all of them are extremely important as band members of MJQ and individuals leading their own bands.
MJQ defined third stream and cool jazz with intricate melodies utilizing blues and classical as a motivating force. With a quintessential injection of the vibes provided by Milt Jackson, it changed the face of jazz culture forever. The vibraphone provides a delicate touch to any jazz track and Jackson’s influence was a prevailing force in the MJQ lineup. It also goes without saying how their music took on a different meaning and purpose after Sonny Rollins added his impressive tenor saxophone. As much as it did change their band’s musical outlook, I think it gave their sound an added dimension that effortlessly completed the musical circle. After the fourth disc is complete, you will feel that you have closed the circle. This boxed set is a real keeper and great stocking stuffer for the jazz lover in your humble abode this year.