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The Comedy is an album by American jazz group the Modern Jazz Quartet featuring performances recorded in 1960 and 1962 and released on the Atlantic label.[2]

The Comedy
The Comedy (album).jpg
Studio album by
RecordedOctober 20, 1960 and January 22, 23 & 24, 1962
New York City
LabelAtlantic 1390
ProducerNesuhi Ertegun
Modern Jazz Quartet chronology
The Modern Jazz Quartet & Orchestra
The Comedy
Lonely Woman
Milt Jackson chronology
Bags Meets Wes!
The Comedy
Very Tall
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars[1]


The tracks, which form a suite of seven movements by the Modern Jazz Quartet's pianist and musical director John Lewis, were inspired by characters from Commedia dell'arte, and followed on from his first depiction of the theatrical form on the title track of the 1956 album Fontessa.[1][3][4] Lewis later recalled: "The main thing about the commedia dell'arte was that the things they did were principally improvised until Carlo Goldoni started to write them down. It reminded me very much of the way jazz developed from small groups of musicians traveling place to place and having to make sure they satisfied the local audience."[4]


In his book Visions of Jazz, Gary Giddins summarized the reception of the album as follows: The critical response ranged from 'frequently ponderous', with Jackson asked to execute 'some fairly mechanical ideas' (Martin Williams), to 'the Modern Jazz Quartet's greatest single achievement, the peak to which all their preceding work together leads' with 'some of the most astonishing passages' Jackson ever recorded (Max Harrison).[4]

The Allmusic review stated "This is the type of album that led many bop purists to criticize the Modern Jazz Quartet (and John Lewis in particular) for being overly influenced by Western classical music".[1]

Track listingEdit

All compositions by John Lewis

  1. "Spanish Steps" – 5:35
  2. "Columbine" – 4:10
  3. "Pulcinella" – 4:20
  4. "Pierrot" – 3:23
  5. "La Cantatrice" – 4:58
  6. "Harlequin" – 6:58
  7. "Piazza Navona" – 5:11



  1. ^ a b c Yanow, S. Allmusic Review accessed September 17, 2018
  2. ^ Modern Jazz Quartet discography accessed May 29, 2012
  3. ^ "The Modern Jazz Quartet: 'The Comedy'". NPR. August 1, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Giddins, Gary (1998). "Modern Jazz Quartet (The First Forty Years)". Visions of Jazz: The First Century. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-19-513241-0.