Now available on CD for the first time, this important 1964 Atlantic recording pairs the world-renowned Modern Jazz Quartet--drummer Connie Kay, bassist Percy Heath, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and the late pianist and music director John Lewis--with the Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida. Together, they present an intelligent program showcasing the acoustic guitar in the group's trademarked combo sound. On "Silver," Lewis's shifting tempos are excellent foils for Milt Jackson's virtuosity. "Valeria" from Lewis's soundtrack A Milanese Story
retains its Adriatic air. Lewis's arrangement of J.S. Bach's "Fugue in A Minor" is the perfect blend of counterpoint and swing. Connie Kay's driving and delicate drumming and Almeida's fleet-finger guitar solos drive Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba." Almeida and the Quartet turn in their best performance on their moving rendition of Joaquin Rodrigro's "Concierto de Aranjuez." Lewis's ingenious treatment of the Spanish classical masterwork is rivaled only by the big band adaptation Miles Davis and Gil Evans created in 1959. With Almeida's brilliant understanding of Afro-Brazilian and Afro-American folk and improvisational forms, and the Modern Jazz Quartet's telepathic interplay and dignified musicality, this recording effortlessly combines 18th-century Germany, Moorish Spain, and modern-day New York. --Eugene Holley Jr.