The Modern Jazz Quartet: My Man's Gone Now


My Man's Gone Now


The Modern Jazz Quartet


Plays George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (Rhino/Wea UK)

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John Lewis (piano), Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (bass), Connie Kay (drums).

Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward


Recorded: New York, July 23-26, 1964


Rating: 96/100 (learn more) recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the the most famous jazz adaptation of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, that of Miles Davis with Gil Evans in 1958. In 1965, however, the Modern Jazz Quartet presented their versions of seven pieces from the folk opera, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its 1935 premiere. This relatively obscure entry in the MJQ's discography has always deserved greater attention. The MJQ's intimate arrangements personalize the music to such an extent that it becomes as much theirs as Gershwin's, and Milt Jackson's theme readings and improvisations attain the same mesmerizing heights achieved by Miles Davis.

Their treatment of "My Man's Gone Now" is one of the most moving and memorable ever recorded by a jazz group. Heath's deeply resonant bassline and Kay's insinuating cymbals set up a steadfast rhythmic foundation for Lewis's insistent chords and, finally, Jackson's delicate, emotion-filled interpretation of the melody, with Lewis tenderly handling the bridge. The intertwining of Jackson's and Lewis's lines is both soothing and ingratiating. With a pickup in tempo (subtly varied from this point on), Jackson initiates an extended bluesy solo, the vibist's flowing phrases blossoming into cascading runs, and his radiant and singular vibrato accentuating his expressiveness. The support of Lewis, Heath and Kay is finely attuned, especially the bassist's plangent figures. The intricate reprise becomes a miraculous interaction between four individual yet totally compatible musicians. This music will linger in your mind for some time after hearing it, and then you'll want to hear it again.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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