John Lewis: Sketch
Modern Jazz Quartet & Beaux Arts String Quartet
Third Stream Music (Wounded Bird Records WOU 1345)
Gerald Tarack (violin), Alan Martin (violins), Carl Eberl (viola), Joe Tekula (cello).
Composed and conducted by John Lewis.
Recorded: New York, September 23, 1959
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
MJQ + string quartet = one felicitous match. Whereas many jazz groups would simply overwhelm such a setting—can you imagine, for instance, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with string quartet?—the MJQ's genteel nuances are, if anything, rudely interrupted by the strings' first entrance. But the parties quickly reach such amicable rapprochement that we wish this 5½-minute "Sketch" had been developed into a full-fledged painting. Come to think of it, the following year the MJQ & Orchestra recorded Third Stream's one-hit wonder, "England's Carol." So maybe "Sketch," blending modern jazz and rococo elegance, grew into a mural after all.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz