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Sonny Rollins With The Modern Jazz Quartet (1953)

Sonny Rollins, tenor sax; Milt Jackson, vibes; John Lewis, piano; Percy Heath, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums. NYC, October 7, 1953. Tracks: In A Sentimental Mood, The Stopper, Almost Like Being In Love, No Moe

"Included here are some of Sonny Rollins' earliest sessions as a bandleader. These are among the fresh and vibrant baker's dozen of selections on Sonny Rollins With the Modern Jazz Quartet (1953). The title is a bit misleading though, since the MJQ -- with John Lewis (piano), Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums) -- is only accounted for during the first four sides. There is a playful and energetic tone that ricochets from Jackson's fluid vibes, landing firmly in Rollins' musical court. One prime example of this interaction is heard throughout the solos on the opening track, "Stopper." Similarly, "Almost Like Falling in Love" bops, weaves, and swings throughout, with some expressive contributions via Lewis, effectively linking Rollins' and Jackson's solos. "No Moe," which stands as one of the best originals on the disc, also bears their undeniable connection. Another not-to-be-missed reading is the sultry "In a Sentimental Mood." Here, Rollins spirals mature and ethereal lines against Jackson's resonant intonation and shimmer. If just for these tunes, Sonny Rollins With the Modern Jazz Quartet is a vital component in any jazz enthusiasts' collection." - Lindsay Planer, Allmusic.com


"The real treats are the tracks featuring the Modern Jazz Quartet, recorded two years later. The brash tenor of Rollins and the chamber music leanings of the MJQ may seem like an odd matchup, but the music has a depth and grace not heard on the other tracks due to Lewis' devotion to texture and composition. "In A Sentimental Mood" showcases Rollins' melodic gifts over a bed of shimmering vibes and sparse piano; "The Stopper" is a funky Rollins original with a little more edge than the MJQ may have preferred. Rollins sounds more assured and confident, and we can see glimmers of the gentlemanly approach to jazz the MJQ would patent a year later with Django." - David Rickert, AllAboutjazz.com

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