As pianist, composer, arranger, and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, formed in 1952, Mr. Lewis became the architect of a unique sound in jazz and expanded the jazz audience to the concert hall. Simultaneously, and after the group disbanded in the mid-70s, he taught at City College of New York, and at Harvard University, and was director of the Monterey Jazz Festival.
John Lewis received honorary doctorates from the University of New Mexico, Columbia College in Chicago, and the New England Conservatory. He performed on over 120 record albums, appearing as a leader in over 100 recordings. He released his last recordings, "Evolution 1&2," in 1999.
In January of 2001, John Lewis was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, along with Jackie McClean and Randy Weston. Later that month, to great critical acclaim, Mr. Lewis played what would be his last public performance, at Lincoln Center in New York City.
"John Lewis is regarded as one of the most brilliant minds ever applied to Jazz." Leonard Feather, Encyclopedia Of Jazz