The Modern Jazz Quartet was a major jazz institution, a band that, counting a seven-year “vacation,” lasted 43 years. During a time when jazz musicians were stereotyped as unreliable, rarely sober and erratic, the MJQ played at concert halls while wearing tuxedos. They are not known to have ever been late, missed a gig, or disappointed an audience.
From the start, the Modern Jazz Quartet’s sound and style were in place. Mixing together the influences of Bach and Charlie Parker, with pianist Lewis’ basic blues playing reminiscent of Count Basie and Jackson adding a great deal of soul to the music, the MJQ was always a unique group. Among their early recordings are Lewis’ “Django,” “La Ronde,” “One Bass Hit,” and an inventive reworking of “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise.”
The earlier MJQ sessions were released on 78s, 45s, EPs, and 10-inch LPs. Later they were collated on 12-inch LPs. 1955's Concorde was the first session done specifically for 12-inch and was also drummer Connie Kay's first recording with the group after replacing Kenny Clarke. Kay, who had played with Lester Young, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker, was perfect for the role as drummer with the MJQ. His emphasis on creating quiet sounds while keeping time fit Lewis’ conception perfectly.
In addition to Kaye and Lewis, the group at this time also consisted of Milt Jackson (vibraphone) and Percy Heath (bass). Along with Jackson's "Ralph's New Blues" and Lewis' title track "Concorde," the 6-song set also includes Cole Porter's "All of You" and the Gershwin Medley: "Soon" / "For You, For Me, Forevermore" / "Love Walked In" / "Our Love Is Here To Stay." "I'll Remember April" was done at a separate session (discographies don't tell us this) because Lewis, the perfectionist, was dissatisfied with the first version.
The Modern Jazz Quartet Concorde Track Listing:
1. Ralph's New Blues
2. All Of You
3. I'll Remember April
4. Gershwin Medley: Soon / For You, For Me, Forevermore / Love Walked In / Our Love Is Here To Stay
5. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise