The Modern Jazz Quartet: Django




The Modern Jazz Quartet


Django (Prestige PRCD-7057-2)

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John Lewis (piano), Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums).

Composed by John Lewis


Recorded: New York, December 23, 1954


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

MJQ in Tuxedos

Ceremonially attired, affecting deadpan expressions suitable for illustrations in an embalmer’s manual, the MJQ looked like four stiffs modeling for Madame Tussaud. Their musical charm, however, will live forever. Based on a Bartók piano piece, John Lewis's finest composition is a tribute to the great Gypsy swing guitarist Django Reinhardt, who died a year earlier. "Django" doesn’t sound like Django, but it’s a stately, swinging, multihued masterpiece of modern jazz.

In a famous putdown, Miles Davis likened the MJQ to boxers "fighting in tuxedos." If so, "Django" wins the undisputed world championship for pugilists in evening dress. It's a knockout.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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