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Modern Jazz Quartet: Lost Tapes: Germany 1956-1958

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The German label Jazzhaus claims to be sitting on “possibly the most comprehensive reservoir of unpublished jazz recordings worldwide: more than 3,000 hours of footage.” In 2012 they began releasing their stash. They are now at 13 titles and counting. So far, all the music on Jazzhaus has been worthy of rescue.

Germany 1956-1958 is early MJQ: 11 studio tracks from 1956 and 1958 and two concert tracks from 1957. It is striking how, only a few years into its 40-year history, MJQ had fully realized its identity. They were the first “chamber jazz” ensemble. John Lewis’ arch, minimal classicism was the improbable, perfect complement to Milt Jackson’s lush, bluesy soulfulness. Behind them, Percy Heath and Connie Kay tiptoed, lithe as jungle cats.

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