Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Modern Jazz Quartet's Tribute To Django Reinhardt

One month after Django Reinhardt passed (May 16, 1953), the Modern Jazz Quartet (Milt Jackson, vibraphone; John Lewis, piano; Percy Heath, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums) entered the studio to record its third album for Prestige Records. The initial tracks put to wax included two Lewis compositions—"The Queen's Fancy" and "Delauney's Dilemma"—as well as standards "Autumn In New York" (Vernon Duke) and "But Not for Me" (George & Ira Gershwin). Over a year passed before the second session (December 23, 1954) when the MJQ laid down Lewis' iconic title track, "Django" (a tribute to the gypsy jazz legend), as well as "One Bass Hit" (Dizzy Gillespie) and "Milano" (Lewis). The MJQ added Lewis' "La Ronde Suite" a few weeks later (January 9, 1955) to complete the album, first released on two ten-inch albums, before the full LP dropped in 1956. To date, Django remains one of MJQ's most celebrated albums, in large part due to the popularity of its titular tribute to Reinhardt. In fact, "Django" has since been recorded by Grant Green, Vince Guaraldi and even Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks self-titled debut album.

Bay Area multi-instrumentalist Smith Dobson V plays material from the Modern Jazz Quartet’s Django for SFJAZZ's monthly Hotplate Tribute on Septemeber 24, 2015.

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