Retro Reviews

Mary Lou Williams: “Solo Recital, Montreux Jazz Festival, 1978” (OJC 962/ EagleVision 39053)

One of Mary Lou Williams’ proudest claims was that she played through all the major jazz eras. In the final years of her life, she codified the styles so thoroughly that any piece she played could have elements of stride, swing, boogie, bop and free. Thomas Cunniffe reviews her stunning solo performance at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival in this Retro Review.

More

Miles Davis Live in Europe 1967 (Columbia/Legacy 94053)

Columbia/Legacy launches its latest series of Miles Davis recordings with a 3-CD/1-DVD set chronicling a fortnight tour of Europe in 1967. The quintet featuring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams was in peak form, creating vastly different performances from night to night. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the set, and reveals what you won’t find on the collection.

More

Modern Jazz Quartet: “Concert in Japan ’66” (Atlantic [Japan] 1027-1028)

The Modern Jazz Quartet’s stage manners were always immaculate. Dressed in tuxedos or fine crafted suits, they projected an air of dignity usually reserved for string quartets. However, on one night in Tokyo, they let themselves loose, and in the process created some of the most memorable performances of their repertoire. The concert was recorded by TBS Radio in Japan, and issued on the Japanese Atlantic imprint, but it was never issued in the US. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe examines this unique entry in the MJQ discography.

More

The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings of the Modern Jazz Quartet (Mosaic 249)

One of the reasons for the Modern Jazz Quartet’s longevity was the wide appeal of their music. Cool jazz adopted them as their own for the fugues and Third Stream works, while boppers could appreciate their strong roots in the blues. Mosaic’s 7-CD collection of the MJQ’s studio albums from 1956-1964 offers generous helpings of the group’s wide repertoire. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that a companion volume of the MJQ live would complete the picture.

More

Two Trips Through The “Money Jungle”

The 1962 LP Money Jungle brought together the prototypical power trio: Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The personal tensions between these giant personalities was reflected in the music, which was less like sparks flying and more like landmine explosions. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe examines this classic recording and a new tribute album by Terri Lyne Carrington.

More