10 JUL 09 CHRIS SLAWECKI
History suggests that The Prestige Jazz Quartet came together to replace the label's more famous Modern Jazz Quartet when the MJQ jumped to another label. They both employed the same instrumentation -- vibes (Teddy Charles), piano (Mal Waldron), bass (Art's twin brother Addison Farmer) and drums (Jerry Segal) -- played the same type of classical-sounding, erudite acoustic jazz, and the piano and vibes players contributed most of their respective repertoires. The Prestige Jazz Quartet is now available in the Digital Only section of this site.
Jazz is full of great titles like this one, pretty much lost after its original 1957 issuance until its appearance on CD in 1987, but still worth finding now. The rhythm section gives Charles and Waldron great freedom to explore these tunes by so wonderfully holding down the bottom yet letting it float along with the piano's and vibes' lead. Charles' suite "Take Three Parts Jazz" opens this set with more shifting moods than a teenage girl during prom week. Waldron's "Dear Elaine" moans a sad and beautiful ballad, especially Charles' intro, where his notes fall like teardrops.
The closing Monk composition "Friday the 13th" is simply perfect for these musicians in this format. Like most of Monk's music, it opens wide spaces that simultaneously challenge and liberate the musicians and it swings like crazy.
History also suggests that the Prestige Jazz Quartet was well-intentioned but short-lived: There's only one other title available, Teo Macero With The Prestige Jazz Quartet, led by the tenor saxophonist who became more famous as Miles Davis' producer, also recorded in '57.
The Prestige Jazz Quartet, from The ...
Ralph's New Blues
The Modern Jazz Quartet, from Concorde ...
Basin Street Blues
Teddy Charles, from New Directions
The Cattin' Toddler
Mal Waldron, from Mal/3: Sounds
Teo Macero With The Prestige Jazz Quartet ...
in this playlist.