Modern Jazz Quartet: The Cylinder


The Cylinder


Modern Jazz Quartet


The Complete Last Concert (Atlantic Jazz 81976)

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

Composed by Milt Jackson


Recorded: New York, November 25, 1974


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

The Modern Jazz Quartet's "The Cylinder" is constructed around a single chord, and the form does not change until Milt Jackson has exhausted his full canon of effervescent sounding vibraphone riffs. As he solos, the other musicians keep things low key, matching him note for note and pulse for pulse with terrific timing. As Jackson swings, the music comes alive even though it is controlled fiercely by the others.

Halfway through, Milt steps aside and gives pianist John Lewis some breathing room to improvise over a brand new chord sequence that changes up the main key. Jackson adds some dissonance in the background, which is quite deviant from the general use of the vibraphone in modern jazz music.

So, to summarize, the first half is a rather normal swinging jam led by Milt Jackson's good vibes, and the second half features some improvisation anchored by pianist John Lewis while the chords are modulated upwards so that somewhat unrelatied variations to the main theme are added to the multi-part chord sequence. The ensemble playing is solid, and it is certain that the musicians are intrinsically feeding each other with ideas that all seem to deviate far from the established norm.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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