Portrait of the MJQ

Nat Steele: vibraharp | Gabriel Latchin: piano | Dario Di Lecce: bass | Steve Brown: drums

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For bookings please contact Nat Steele.

Portrait Of The MJQ’ is a brand new ensemble, formed late 2016, of well known and celebrated UK musicians, performing the music of one of the most famous and influential groups of the 20th century, the ‘Modern Jazz Quartet. The MJQ, as it was otherwise known, is famous for bringing jazz out of the club and into the concert hall, and of being an early pioneer of the “third stream” fusion of classical form and jazz improvisation. It featured the contrasting talents of its musical director and pianist, John Lewis, who played with an understated control, with the firey, boppish stylings of vibes pioneer Milt Jackson.

‘Portrait Of The MJQ’ features the talents of Nat Steele on vibraharp, who is a well known follower of the two-mallet approach pioneered by Jackson. Joining him is the quietly swinging young pianist Gabriel Latchin, the impeccable Italian bassist Dario Di Lecce and UK firm favourite Steve Brown on drums.

A debut album, featuring stellar favourites such as ‘Django’, ‘Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise’, ‘Bags Groove’ and others is currently in post-production, to be released in spring 2017 on the Trio Records label.

Portrait of the MJQ’ has evolved from a project started by renowned, and now sadly departed, pianist Michael Garrick, OBE, called “MJQ Celebration”. The band initially consisted of Mike on piano, Jim Hart on vibes, Matt Ridley on bass and Steve Brown on drums. The band toured around the country performing to sell out crowds at major venues including the Purcell Room, and shortly after Mike passed away they recorded an album with Barry Green taking on the piano role. They worked in that form for several years until Jim Hart moved to France to raise his family, at which point Nat Steele took on the vibes chair. With a new lineup, and to take the band in a different direction, Nat renamed the band “Portrait of the MJQ”, intending to bring the music closer to John Lewis’ original intentions.

Bandleader Nat Steele is a jazz vibraphone player and drummer based in London. Since his arrival on the scene, he 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.

Pianist Gabriel Latchin is constantly in demand as a side man. Most recently he’s gained attention for his role in performing with Christian McBride and Renee Fleming at Wigmore Hall. He has worked with Ronnie Cuber, former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint, Alex Garnett, The London Jazz Orchestra and The Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He has performed at concert halls, clubs and festivals around the UK and Europe, including The Barbican, The Queen's Hall, The London Jazz Festival, The Jazz Bar and in Holland and Monaco.

Double bassist Dario di Lecce was raised in Bari, Italy, where he began studying double bass with Maestro Giorgio Vendola. He’s studied with Lee Konitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Barron, Dado Moroni, Eddie Gomez, Buster Williams. He has performed in Italy, UK, Netherlands, France, Slovenia and the United States. In 2012 he moved to London where he is currently working with some of the most important musicians the British jazz scene.

Multi award-winning drummer Steve Brown moved from his home town of Manchester to London in 1996 and immediately became first call sideman with many of the capitol's finest musicians, including engagements with Harry 'Sweets' Edison and Conte Candoli. He’s a member of Scott Hamilton’s quartet and appears Concorde and other major labels. Between engagements with Scott Hamilton, Steve performs and records with a wide variety of artists including Benny Golson, Benny Green, Carl Fontana, Barry Harris, Junior Mance, Charles McPherson, John Bunch and Hod O'Brien.

The musicians in the quartet bring their own individual style and flair to the music, while authentically portraying the musical intentions of John Lewis & Milt Jackson.

For bookings please contact Nat Steele.