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For a short time in the mid-'60s, the Modern Jazz Quartet were working primarily in Europe and recording for the French division of Philips, with the results coming out in the United States on the MJQ's regular label, Atlantic. There was only one exception to this rule: Place Vendôme, the collaboration the MJQ did with the Swingle Singers, which appeared in the U.S. on Philips' American subsidiary through Mercury Records, on which the Swingle Singers had been appearing for some years already. For Philips, the collaboration must have seemed like an inevitability; Ward Swingle had sung with the Double Six of Paris, which had backed up Dizzy Gillespie who, of course, had led the big band out of which the MJQ was formed in 1952. The Swingle Singers had been jazzing up the music of Johann Sebastian Bach since at least 1963 with phenomenal success, and while John Lewis wasn't quite as into the Bach bag in 1966 that he would be in later, his MJQ compositions had long been taken up in European devices such as fugue and the renaissance Canzona. Although Swingle and Lewis agreed to collaborate backstage after an MJQ concert in Paris in 1964, it wasn't until 1966 that the two groups found themselves in Paris at the same time. The resultant album, Place Vendôme, was a huge international success commercially, with the track "Aria (Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068)" — though then popularly called "Air on a G String" — charting strongly in Europe and the album easily earning its keep in the U.S., though it did not chart there. Not everyone was pleased; jazz critics savaged the album, the consensus being that a pop vocal group like the Swingle Singers had no business making an album with an exalted jazz group like the MJQ.

Fast forward more than four decades, and Place Vendôme itself is a rare album that's basically impervious to criticism. It's sui generis; the Swingles and the MJQ's badinage on Bach is what it is, you either like it or you don't, and whether one does or not doesn't much matter. However, the Philips CD version of it does have one significant variable in that the digital mastering was supervised, in 1988, by John Lewis. His input into the remastering was to bring the MJQ more up front in the mix, not an entirely evenhanded solution, as it was originally marketed as a Swingle Singers album to start with. Moreover, the effect of the new mastering results in some strange artifacts, such as a passage in the "Ricercare 2 à 6 (Offrande Musicale, BWV 1079)" where the MJQ drops out for a passage, and the unbalanced Swingles continue singing away in the background as though segregated to a phantom channel. Nevertheless, that which John Lewis wrought is liable to stick — a proposed BBC Legends reissue of a MJQ concert recorded in London was quashed in 2001 by Lewis shortly before he died; it hasn't appeared, and it isn't likely to. For those interested primarily in the MJQ in reference to Place Vendôme, the Philips CD version should be fine, whereas those interested in the Swingle Singers' part of the equation might want to track down a copy of the original LP release — not a difficult task — as the mix is weighted more in the favor of the voices. Anyone desiring a genuinely balanced version of Place Vendôme where both elements are relatively even, however, will have to get used to one or the other.


Gevormd: 1952

Genre: Jazz

Jaren actief: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Pianist John Lewis, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Kenny Clarke first came together as the rhythm section of the 1946 Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra and they had occasional features that gave the overworked brass players a well-deserved rest. They next came together in 1951, recording as the Milt Jackson Quartet. In 1952, with Percy Heath taking Brown's place, the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) became a permanent group. Other than Connie Kay succeeding Clarke in 1955, the...
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Dit hebben luisteraars ook gekocht:

Place Vendôme, The Modern Jazz Quartet
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