Friday, August 5, 2016

Bryn Fortey, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Chet Baker

A while back Bryn Fortey reminded me about the Modern Jazz Quartet.  Here is his poem about this group.


Try the Modern Jazz Quartet for size
Four for the price of one

John Lewis (1920)
Milt Jackson (1923)
Percy Heath (1923)
Connie Kay (1927)

Sophisticated counterpoint
Chamber-jazz feeling
European classical forms

They had their critics
But were popular beyond
The limiting jazz community

During their late sixties peak
Lewis’s compositions
And group improvisation
Of vibrant intensity
Kept them at the forefront
Of jazz that was undeniably modern

Bryn Fortey

 Chet Baker is definitely worth writing about as well.  Bryn's title is fabulous!


Chet Baker burst upon the scene
In the piano-less quartet
He formed with Gerry Mulligan
Cool jazz was “in” and
His looks and swoon-era vocals
Seemed to guarantee stardom
But his personality was as fragile
As his poignant, emotionally- charged
Trumpet playing
Whatever the question
Heroin supplied the answer
Drifting in and out of drug deluded decades
Baker resurfaced at odd moments
Like a jazz mercenary
Have trumpet: will play: where’s the money?
Dollars always needed for the next fix
Yet there were still occasions
When the music was sublime
(Which only emphasised what had been lost)
Chet Baker: sweet and sour
From jazz idol to ravaged junky
What a waste

Bryn Fortey


I don't know how much Modern Jazz Quartet I've posted here, but here is their version of "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise," another great title.  

"Blues in C Minor" epitomizes MJQ's willingness to blend musical genres:

"Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5" brings Brazilian music into the mix:

Here is a live version of their "Django."  From the host's hairstyle, this performance appears to be from the 1980s:

As soon as I started playing these cuts above, my husband came running to hear Milt Jackson on the vibes.  Ethan plays Jackson's CDs and YouTube videos quite a bit.

I've posted Chet Baker's version of "My Funny Valentine" before, but I have to pair it with Bryn's poem:

This song "Festive Minor" also features Gerry Mulligan:

Or you may prefer a standard like "Stardust":


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