Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) – featuring Laurindo Almeida – live in Helsinki – YLE-Radio Helsinki –
Keeping the holiday spirit going this weekend with a set by The Modern Jazz Quartet with a guest appearance by guitarist Laurindo Almeida – all recorded (wonderfully well) by YLE in Helsinki in 1964.
Seriously, I don’t know what you could possibly add to the story of MJQ that hasn’t been written, talked about or uttered on a mass scale with Jazz Aficionados over the years. It was a gathering of four of the most consummate musicians, whose work stretched over several decades and whose individual endeavors touched almost every genre of music. During the ’60s, the MJQ further expanded their sound, issuing a bevy of albums on Atlantic including 1962’s Lonely Woman, which featured their take on the Ornette Coleman title track. They also paired with Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida on 1964’s Collaboration, issued the 1965 big-band album Jazz Dialogues, and paired with the acclaimed vocal ensemble The Swingle Singers for 1966’s Place Vendome. There were also collaborations with Gunther Schuller, singer Diahann Carroll, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and the Beaux Arts String Quartet, among others.
Laurindo Almeida was first introduced to the jazz public as a featured guitarist with the Stan Kenton band in the late 1940s during the height of its success. According to author Michael Sparke, Almeida and his fellow Kenton bandmember drummer Jack Costanzo “endowed the music of Progressive Jazz with a persuasive Latin flavor, and the music is enriched by their presence.” Famed Kenton arranger Pete Rugolo composed “Lament” specifically for Almeida’s cool, quiet sound, and Almeida’s own composition “Amazonia” was also featured by the Kenton orchestra. Almeida stayed with Kenton until 1952.
Almeida’s recording career enjoyed auspicious early success with the 1953 recordings now called Brazilliance No. 1 and No. 2 with fellow Kenton alumnus Bud Shank, bassist Harry Babasin, and drummer Roy Harte on the World Pacific label (originally entitled “The Laurindo Almeida Quartet featuring Bud Shank”). Widely regarded as “landmark” recordings, Almeida and Shank’s combination of Brazilian and jazz rhythms (which Almeida labeled “samba-jazz”-) presaged the fusion of Latin and jazz, which is quite different in bossa nova, although jazz critic Leonard Feather credited Almeida and Shank as the creators of bossa nova sound.
In 1964, Almeida again expanded his recording repertoire by joining forces with the Modern Jazz Quartet on Collaboration (Atlantic Records), which combined classical with jazz, called “chamber jazz.” Almeida also toured with the MJQ, both in the 1960s and again in the 1990s.
Check them out if you haven’t already – dive in if you have. Good times all around.
As you know, we’ve suspended indefinitely our ads in order to make Past Daily a better experience for you without all the distractions and pop-ups. Because of that, we’re relying more on your support through Patreon to keep us up and running every day. For as little as $5.00 a month you can make a huge difference as well as be able to download all of our posts for free (news, history, music). You’ll see a banner just below. Click on that and become a subscriber – it’s easy, painless and does a world of good.