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John Lewis - Early Years: Before The Mjq 1946-52

John Lewis - Early Years: Before The Mjq 1946-52

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John Lewis was a jazz pianist best-known for his work as founder member and musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, famous for blending elements of classical music with individual and ensemble improvisation in a refined chamber style of jazz. The music of the MJQ was in many ways the culmination of the development of Lewis' musical ideas during the five years and more of his professional career before that quartet came together, as he worked with some of the most influential and notable names in jazz during the bebop era. Classically-trained as a child, he met drummer Kenny Clarke while serving in WWII, and after the war successfully auditioned for Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra in 1945. This great-value 75-track 3-CD set comprises recordings made over the next six years or so with ensembles led by Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Milt Jackson, Illinois Jacquet, J.J. Johnson, Lester Young, and Zoot Sims, which included landmark sessions that were, without exaggeration, among the most significant in the entire history of modern jazz. As well as those leaders, it includes performances alongside musicians like Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, Ray Brown, Sonny Rollins, Chano Pozo, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Curly Russell, Lee Konitz, Jo Jones, Percy Heath and many more. Lewis' contributions to these recordings as sideman and accompanist are rarely the most prominent element of the performances, but they underline his legendarily understated but masterful approach to the music.

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