MJQ (Modern Jazz Quartet) – live in Paris – Recorded at Maison de la Radio – Studio 105 – October 3, 1966 – Radio France –
When in doubt, reach for MJQ. Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast and all. Been a hellacious few weeks – a lot of sadness, anger, depression – all those things putting us in lousy frames of mind. MJQ has proven to be the balm (not bomb . . .although) over and over again. Music to soothe and reassure – music that, by its very notes and presence, signifies everything is going to be okay; not perfect, but a breath of fresh air and a light at the end of the tunnel. Good days ahead – someplace, but coming for sure – they always do.
MJQ has been a go-to for solace and emotional nourishment for as long as I can remember. There is such assurance and feeling of safety (for want of a better word) listening to an MJQ album or concert. It’s the warm blanket on the grey and showery day; comforting notes, comforting words.
So the timing seemed perfect when I ran across this recent rebroadcast of a 1966 concert via Radio France Musique. With the world going through it’s current state of dismay and discord, anything by MJQ would be perfect – it took me away within seconds, giving a musical hug and reminding me life is still filled with incredible beauty, wonder and grace – the things that, at times like these, seem conspicuously absent from our emotional toolkit.
One of the biggest regrets of my life (and there’s been a bunch) happened many years ago while I was busy poring over albums in the Jazz department at Tower Records in New York. Standing next to me, also poring over albums was John Lewis, the co-founder of MJQ and a genius on so many levels. I felt this over-whelming compulsion to thank him for being on the planet, for being John Lewis, for making the world a much better place, for changing the way I looked at music.
I didn’t. The last thing I ever want to do is bug people, especially people who are well-known and enjoying the off-times; not having to “be nice”, smile a lot and shake hands. I didn’t thank him, didn’t say anything – just went about my business and his; poring over albums, checking out titles – and I have always regretted that. Sometimes it’s not bugging people to tell them you have been moved or inspired by them – that they have changed your life – sometimes it feels good to hear it as much as it does to say it.
Of course, I never got the opportunity to do it again and I’ve always regretted not doing it when I had the chance. So my advice – if someone has been an inspiration and a guiding light to you; tell them. They may blow you off, ignore you, look at you like you’re going to explode or be genuinely touched that they have made a difference in your life.
You’ll just never know.
Enjoy the concert – it will take you away from our current slice of reality for at least 90 minutes. And thank god for French Radio.
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