Nat Steele’s new ensemble is a swinging take on the music of one of the most successful and influential small jazz groups of the 20th century, the Modern Jazz Quartet.
The MJQ gained attention for bringing jazz out of the club and into the concert hall in the 1950s, and for being an early pioneer of the “third stream” fusion, combining classical compositional techniques with jazz improvisation. It featured the contrasting talents of its musical director and pianist, John Lewis, who played with an understated control, with the fiery, boppish stylings of vibes pioneer Milt Jackson.
Since his arrival on the scene, Nat Steele has quickly gained a reputation as a talented musician to watch out for, described by Clark Tracey as “one of the best vibes players this country has ever produced.” Following in the style of Milt Jackson and Cal Tjader, Nat takes a two mallet approach to improvisation, focusing on melodic interpretation and a great swing feel.
Joining Nat are the superb young pianist Gabriel Latchin, swinging Italian bassist Dario Di Lecce and superlative Steve Brown on drums.
Nat Steele’s Portrait of the Modern Jazz Quartet is at The Broadway Suite in Peterborough on Sunday, April 15, and will feature tunes from the new album, among them such stellar favourites as ‘Django’, ‘Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise’, ‘Bags Groove’, and a complete performance of ‘La Ronde Suite’.