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Post Modern Jazz Quartet: Organic Electronic

Scanner and the Post Modern Jazz Quartet artfully, seamlessly revisit jazztronica


If you’re going to come up with a band name as clever and evocative as the Post Modern Jazz Quartet, you’ll want to make sure that the music is as inspired as that moniker. That’s the conundrum that faced Peter Gordon of Thirsty Ear Records and pianist/composer Matthew Shipp, one of the label’s signature artists. “We had the concept, but we agonized as to what the term meant,” says Gordon. “Clearly, we are paying great respect to the Modern Jazz Quartet, but then you get into ‘What is postmodern?’ You can drive yourself crazy with that.”

Early this year, the light bulb went on. Gordon and Shipp turned over a handful of multitrack recordings to British electronic music alchemist Robin Rimbaud, who goes by the name Scanner. Recorded in May of 2007, the acoustic session featured Shipp on piano, vibraphonist Khan Jamal, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Michael Thompson-the same configuration as the original MJQ, whose vibraphonist Milt Jackson is a favorite artist of Shipp’s. Scanner’s job? To fashion something new out of it. “Peter was really impressed with the naturalness of the landscapes Scanner had done,” says Shipp. “I checked it out and we decided, since we had not done anything with that session, to give him that.” The collaborative result is Blink of an Eye.

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Originally Published

Jeff Tamarkin

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Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.