This underrated album is an Apollonian masterpiece. It balances the cool, formalist approach to jazz (that one expects from MJQ) with a genuine swinging impulse. The recording features two originals (by Jackson and Lewis) framing a set of superb and superbly played standards. "I'll Remember April," transformed into a hard-swinging scherzo, is a real stand-out (although Erroll Garner's version from a few months later remains definitive in my book). The concluding title track is Lewis's tour-de-force, a complex jazz fugue that lends the session a strong feeling of culmination. Throughout, the album delivers subtle counterpoint ("Softly" begins by quoting from Bach's Musical Offering) and thoughtful structure; it really rewards carefully attention. If you like your jazz on the cool, cerebral side, or if you are coming to jazz from the world of classical music, this album should be mandatory listening. But the music isn't austere: in addition to being substantive, it's a lot of fun.