Happy 45th: Modern Jazz Quartet, Plastic Dreams
45 years ago this month, the Modern Jazz Quartet recorded an album which didn’t thrill the critics and kind of confused fans of the foursome, but that hasn’t stopped it from turning into a well-respected effort over the years.
Recorded in New York City, Plastic Dreams featured a lineup that included Milt Jackson on vibraphone, John Lewis on piano and harpsichord, Percy Heath on bass, Connie Kay on drums, and an array of additional horn players contributing trumpet, trombone, French horn, and tuba to the final trio of tracks.
For an album recorded in May, it’s a bit odd to find two unabashed holiday tracks in the mix – “Variations on a Christmas Theme” and “England’s Carol” – but it’s kind of an odd album all around, really. There’s the funky “Walkin’ Stromp,” the catchy “Piazza Navona,” and “Trav’lin,” which kind of stands on its own. Listening to the album now, it’s clear that the group was sowing its wild oats, trying new things, exploring new sounds, and just kind of doing what came naturally to them. Although it found somewhat of a lukewarm reception when it was initially released, Plastic Dreams actually holds up as well as some of the band’s most critically acclaimed efforts and may indeed be one of the single best albums in their discography.”