(New York, New York) – At a press conference today outside the Village Vanguard music club, pianist/composer John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet has announced a name change for his veteran group which, he says, reflects its by-now reactionary style. The band will henceforth be known as the Old-Fashioned Jazz Quartet.
“We feel the appellation ‘modern’ ill befits such a backward-looking musical ensemble,” he announced simply. “I mean, Jesus, we still wear suits and ties!”
“The [former] MJQ’s [musical] approach, while successful and thoroughly pleasant, has remained virtually unchanged since the late 1940s,” explained an accompanying press release, which was signed by all four current members. “None of us has reverted to an ‘African’ name; our melodies are patently influenced by Western Classical music and, despite a strong improvisational component, could in no way be considered ‘free’ in the Albert Ayler or Ornette Coleman sense–which, in 1962, is truly ‘modern’ music.”
“In basing our latest Lp, The Comedy, on picaresques first introduced by commedia dell’art theatre in Italy during the second half of the sixteenth century,” the press release concluded, “it should be apparent to even the dimmest of intellects that ‘modern’ no longer represents a sensible prefix for us.”
Lewis ended the conference by explaining that the band’s next Lp would feature another member and explore classical themes, at which point they would like to be known as the Old-Fashioned Classical Quintet.
Editor’s note: How many freakin’ Atlantic MJQ albums are there? Lucky for me that despite the fact that they’re relatively collectable on a collectable label, I keep finding them; this largely unheralded one yesterday at the Folkestone Oxfam.