The Modern Jazz Quartet: Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise


Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise


The Modern Jazz Quartet


Concorde (Prestige 7005)

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

Composed by Sigmund Romberg & Oscar Hammerstein II


Recorded: New York, July 2, 1955


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

This song stayed in the repertoire of The Modern Jazz Quartet for many years—they would play it again at their so-called "last concert" recording almost twenty years after this rendition. Although the composition follows a standard AABA form, the quartet evokes the flavor of the minor blues in this lightly swinging version from 1955. The opening is handled with the kind of chamber music restraint we have come to expect from this band, but the tempo accelerates and the conception gets looser during Jackson's solo. But Lewis brings down the intensity level with a smartly-crafted improvisation which is one of his finest. The character of this tune has changed over the years—it started life as a tango and has evolved into a hotter blowing number with a modal flavor. But the Modern Jazz Quartet balances the two extremes, playing off hot against cool and showing off the chemistry between the two lead soloists. And don't miss the counterpoint in the closing melody restatement, which is handled very effectively.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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