Modern Jazz Quartet with Paul Desmod

Category: Music

If your into jazz this is one must have album. This one off album is one of the few total joys to be found.

Talk about a rare find, this is it. Modern Jazz Quartet with Paul Desmond. Recorded Christmas Day in 1971 at the Town Hall in New York City,New York. Very limited run of this album and all but impossible to find today.Long time out of print in vinyl or CD for that matter.

The master tapes of this event were the personal property of Milt Jackson of The Modern Jazz Quartet and were not released until 10 years later. Milt thought it would be a nice tribute to Paul Desmonds memory and to his fans as well to release this material that was only heard that Christmas day so long ago.

I could not agree more, this is one very rare treat that most likely will come your way only once, it is that hard to find.Most of you will not believe this even exists,but thankfully it does.

Stamped on the cover is"First Release Of Historic Concert" It is on the Finesse Records label and is catalog number FW 37487. This was not a planned recording session, but impromptu session and it shows admirably. Columbia recording studios handled the archieve tapes and Don Puluse was the engineer.

The MJQ made their annual Christmas gig at New York's Town Hall one year, and who should show up after intermission but Paul Desmond, who would hardly bring himself to play with anyone in those days, save a Creed Taylor record date or two. The cool classical modernists and the dry-martini altoist are not unexpectedly a close fit -- after all, Percy Heath and especially Connie Kay had been fixtures on Desmond's solo sessions -- and they do some relaxed swinging turns on some congenial standards, adaptations of P.D. tunes ("La Paloma," "Greensleeves"), one current hit ("Jesus Christ Superstar" in a cute John Lewis arrangement), and the inevitable "Bags' Groove" (here entitled "Bags' New Groove"). Again, Desmond softly intones perhaps his favorite standard in the repertoire (he recorded it countless times), "You Go to My Head," tumbling contrapuntally around Milt Jackson in the tune, while "East of the Sun" has a fine chase sequence between the two down the stretch. Though they had been friends since the 1950s, this was apparently the only time the MJQ and Desmond ever performed in public, making this one-off album (issued well after Desmond's death through Lewis's efforts) a thing to savor for fans of all five musicians.

Sadly for the world of jazz Paul Desmond is no longer with us and the original members of The MJQ have passed as well. But they left a body of work for all to enjoy for as long as we have means to play back their fabulous gift of music.


Paul Desmond was one of the more underrated jazz musicians; some of his best recordings were in fact made outside the Dave Brubeck quartet, and this posthumous release is one of the most interesting. "Greensleeves" is typically his style, while the MJQ showcase their stuff on the other tracks. The interplay between Milt Jackson, John Lewis and Desmond on "East of the sun" is alone worth the price of the CD. The MJQ were unique, and Desmond was unique. Too bad they only played this one time together.

I can't believe this even exists!

Paul Desmond live with the Modern Jazz Quartet? It sounds too good to be true. Paul Desmond, of course, was probably the most unique alto sax player in jazz, and MJQ's distinct percussive sound can't be beat. Desmond used to record solo with MJQ drummer Connie Kay (and occasionally bassist Percy Heath) backing him up, so the players were familiar enough with each other to sound polished. John Lewis' piano playing is so different than Dave Brubecks that this creates a completely new sound for Desmond, and Milt Jacksons vibes are as wonderful as one would expect. My favorite personal highlight is track number three, Blue Dove, a traditional Spanish number that Desmond took a liking too during a tour with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Desmond recorded so little as a solo artist (comparatively) that to skip a chance to hear him with this new setting would be criminal.

The perfect rhythm section for the perfect alto saxophonist.

As I sip my glass of Beujoulas I savor the best sounds I'll probably hear during this lifetime.
"Greensleeves" swings like there's no tomorrow. No one plays a jazz waltz like Desmond. He floats effortlessly over a rhythm section of of sonic lace. This is what dreams are made of.
"You Go To My Head" has been played several times by Desmond. One of his most memorable renditions occured on his Duets album with Brubeck. This is a gently swinging version that lacks the melancholy of the former version.
"Blue Dove" was first recorded by Brubeck/Desmond on Bravo Brubeck. This is, simply put, a perfect melody. Few melodies are worthy of Desmond's divine gift. This happens to be one.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" is a most unlikely inclusion. Maybe because the concert was recorded on Christmas Day? It's haunting and the vamp at the end still echos in my mind.
"Here's that Rainy Day" shows how different styles can be complementary. MJQ double times the accompaniment with blues inflections while Desmond floats above. An inspiring rendition of a classic tune.
"East of the Sun" is another tune that seems to have been written for Desmond. Desmond swings like there's no tomorrow. Milt Jackson trades fours with Desmond at the end. Few things swing as hard as this tune.
"Bag's New Groove" is a blues that shows the funky side of Desmond (is that an oxymoron?). This tune has more great interplay between Jackson and Desmond.
Time for another glass of Beujoulas.

A must for Desmond fans

The album's jacket says that originally the recording of the concert with the MJQ was never meant to be a record. Thank God ( and the record company of course) that it is available.

This concert was superb with beautiful songs like Greensleeves but also with songs like Jesus Christ Superstar which were not published before played by Desmond.

As usual Paul Desmond leaves a lot of room for those who accompany him. His capability of blending in with his fellow musicians is unique. With whomever he plays ( Brubeck, Mulligan or in this case the MJQ) you will recognize his gentle and lyrical style immediately but, unlike many others, he sucks in the style of his fellow musicians to produce again another unique piece of work.

For me, he is one of the great players ever and it is a pity that we are not able anymore to get new work from him.

For the real Desmond fans this album is, again, a must.

Great Blending of gentle and lyrical artists
Excellent outing. Although I like the Modern Jazz Quartet, I feel that the addition of a Paul Desmond or Sonny Rollins loosens the group and makes them seem a little less like a jazz chamber quartet. Unlike the contrast provided by the stronger, driving Sonny Rollins, Desmond is complementary; he fits the gentle, lyrical style of the MJQ. Unfortunately, they only played together this one time. I highly recommend this recording.

Make no mistake this is for the true jazz collector or historian of jazz. As well as fans of The Modern Jazz Quartet and Paul Desmond.