Let’s get straight to the point – this set is music to my ears. Pardon the punnery (not really) but let it be known right away that this is a phenomenal set. And it’s definitely something that needs to immediately join your collection. The Jazz Quartet (21334) is a winning LEGO®️ Ideas submission courtesy of designer Hsinwei Chi from Taiwan. His design is only one of two to successfully pass the First 2021 Review to become an official set. The other set is The Office (21336) which saw a July 2022 release (in North America). This is a beautiful set with a plethora of smart build techniques, nice parts use and best of all, style. Let’s dive in and see what we get.
NOTE: I purchased this set at full price from the LEGO®️ website during their recent 2X VIP event. For a full breakdown of our rating system, please click here.
- SET #: 21334
- THEME: Ideas
- COST: $129.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 1606
- COST-PER-BRICK: $0.08
- BUILD TIME: 304 Minutes
- COST-PER-MIN: $0.43
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2022
- OF NOTE: Can be built by 4 people at once
- VALUE: 100% (perfect values for cost-per-brick and minute, very in-line with prior Ideas sets)
- BUILD: 100% (fun designs, great techniques with variety and NPU make this a stellar experience)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (a beautiful display piece, great reference for moc makers)
- OVERALL SCORE: 100% (a perfect set that ticks all the boxes – highly recommended!)
February is Black History Month in North America. As such, I thought it was a smart time to review a set that is a celebration of what many consider to be a staple of Black cultural history – Jazz. I myself am not a huge music fan, but I do appreciate it in many forms. But for some it’s in their bones! And seeing something so dear to so many done in brick form is often a big draw. More importantly is the ability to see yourself or your culture in that product. You will also make a connection to media & pop culture if you see yourself represented in it. The bottom line is, REPRESENTATION MATTERS.
Minifigures are a big area where we can see this progress. If you haven’t already, please read Krista’s great Diverse Minifigure Series articles. She has articles dedicated to Black History Month as well as mobility and LGBTQ+. And as an LGBTQ+ person myself, I know I am thrilled to see the queer community represented in any form. My very first article was the reveal of the Everyone is Awesome (40516) set. That set makes me smile to this day for it’s lovely message and symbolism. I feel so seen because of it. Sets like the Hogwarts Magical Trunk (76399) or recent Table Football (21337) offer a ton of new skin tones and accessories to really explore diversity. And I really hope that young builders and even AFOLs of colour are able to feel the same with sets like this. Let’s keep that great attention to detail going!
In the last few years, The LEGO®️ Group has made some decent strides to better show diversity in their product. And they are no doubt making strides behind the scenes as well. But the visible face of the brand is the brick. Seeing sets like the Jazz Quartet is a great step in making many feel seen and welcome. And it’s also in ways that don’t exploit or trivialize the subject. That the figures are ‘real’ people and not famous actors or part of some IP makes it feel much more significant as well. And you certainly don’t have to be black to empathize and/or support equality in that community. It’s just the right thing to do. Can The LEGO®️ Group do more? Of course. Is this a great start? Well, depends on who you ask. But any stride forward is a cause for celebration and positivity.
The Jazz Quartet (21334) retails for $129.99 CAD. This translates to a very desirable cost-per-brick of just $0.08. That’s as good a deal as there is in the current brick market. Aside from the LEGO®️ Art theme which averages about $0.04 a piece, Ideas is often the next best value. Our current average for sets reviewed to date is $0.10 for an 80% score. Our quartet starts with an excellent score of 96% thanks to that cost/brick. This isn’t too surprising really given there’s no licensing cost or expensive features. Compare this to the Motorized Lighthouse (21335) which comes in at $0.18 per piece and this is a veritable steal!
I am not a slow builder, but somehow my build time clocks in at 304 minutes (just over 5 hours). I reeeaaally took the time to savour this one – apparently LOL. With that time, I get a cost-per-minute of $0.43 which is a perfect score. Frankly, even if I had done this infinitely slower, I would still give it a 100% score. That’s right, I’m gonna be rounding up a lot. Comparatively our Ideas reviews average $0.76 for an 80% score. Taking both scores together we come a superb Value of 98%. But honestly, let’s just round that up because this is an excellent value at full price and no matter how long your build takes.
The Jazz Quartet (21334) is packaged in a beautifully done box with the now standard black background and greebling border. In this case it looks fantastic, drawing your focus to the model thanks to a burgundy glow behind it. That same colour is in the border and it looks and feels very classy. Also classy? That amazing logo resembling a neon sign in the same dark red and yellow colours. I wish it was a tile that you could put on the model. Inside the box you will find 11 numbered bags, two 16×16 plates and five instructions booklets. That’s right, there’s five books, one for each musician and one for the assembly, designer notes and the parts list. As such four people can build this set together – a rare feature in a set and definitely a fun idea.
When I think of Jazz I often imagine the 1920’s and 30’s. And within that decade I think of a sleek art deco design look. Consequently, I get that feeling with the construction of this set. The abstract forms and long lines of the figures give it that deco flair. It’s a lovely nuance that I wasn’t expecting, but really see in the completed model. There’s also a nice diversity in the characters. You’ve got different body types and skin tones. The two shades of brown/nougat used for the skin are great. And changing the pianist to a woman was a smart call. That she’s now a heavier-set woman is also brilliant. The original submission was a Caucasian male. It made for a nice mix with black musicians, but I think this is a better representation of the genre and diversity.
I love how this set comes together. Each player is attached to a portion of the stage that also connects together. Technic pins hold two parts securely on both sides. This means that the trumpeter and pianist ‘click’ together, as will the bassist and drummer. Those two sections are of even width and they slot together with axles which don’t connect. So while it makes it easy to separate into manageable pieces, it’s not very sturdy. But who doesn’t have a bunch of extra technic pins? Use ’em if you need. There is slight modularity too. You can swap the position of the bassist to have him front and centre instead of the trumpeter. It’s a small thing but it may make some bassist’s day to take centre stage.
Speaking of stage, I love the finish for the stage. It’s essentially a display base but it makes all the sense given the subject matter. Rows of tan tiles, 1×1 plates and 1×4 tiles with two studs simulate a wooden floor. It’s a great allusion to a stage floor, and adding the random studs here and there really breaks up the monotony in a pleasing way. The steps are also a nice touch, as is the black tile border. The original submission had lots of gold accents. That would have made a fabulous detail but I’m certainly not mad at the the end result.
Players & Instruments
The clear standouts of the Jazz Quartet are these brick-built musicians and their instruments. Each person is very stylized and fairly simple in shaping and detail. Although articulation is minimal, there is decent movement in the head and arms of each character. So you won’t get much range, but their poses are pretty great overall. The three male players are in matching duds – white shirt and grey pants while the female pianist is in a gorgeously bright orange dress. And you can’t have a jazz quartet without instruments. And these are some fiiiiiinnnee looking instruments. Wow. If you think the figures are too simple or bland, well then get ready to love building these detailed and accurate musical pieces. If this set was literally just recreations of instruments I would still be happy.
The trumpeter is all class and in the zone. That leaned-back stance is very animated and you feel some good energy despite the lack of poseability. I love the use of dark red plates with slides positioned vertically to make suspenders. His tie is also askew for that extra bit of flair. There’s a lot of nice attention to detail on the face. A jumper plate represents his puckered mouth. Adding to that genius effect is a plate with vertical tooth on either side which gives the impression of puffed-out cheeks. That alone is worth the price of admission – it’s so great. And check out the rolled up sleeves done so simply with 1×1 bricks in white and dark brown.
This is simplest instrument made of just a few small pieces. Lacquered gold is the obvious choice and sells the brass material. It’s attached to his hand with a clip piece. So while you could remove it, there’s really nowhere to put it. Not a bad recreation considering it’s just six pieces including a lightsaber hilt, nozzle and a dish. This is the smallest and fastest of the booklets to build. Despite that, it’s a great start and it got me excited to build the other three musicians.
Our double bass player is another dapper man with lots of presence. He’s got a little paunch which definitely adds variety. Replacing the tie and suspenders is a bowtie. And if you don’t see it right away, that bowtie is an unprinted minifigure controller accessory. I mean let’s gooooo. Such a great example of nice parts usage (NPU). Keeping it suave is a fun pompadour hairstyle. Organic shapes like hair are wonderfully translated into this minimalist/deco expression. His skin tone is a lighter shade of brown thanks to the use of medium nougat pieces.
Looking at the double bass, it’s a masterpiece of brick-built design. It’s gorgeous. The scale is perfect and allows for precise and accurate shapes. SNOT techniques give it a smooth, delicate finish that perfectly captures the real life object. Black flame/tribal pieces work beautifully as the ‘f-holes’ on the front. And a rope with studs at either end stretches across the front for strings. These are excellent details and you can almost hear that rich deep sound coming from this thing. A ball joint attaches it to the base so it can securely stand upright in the player’s arms.
The drummer for our talented jazz quartet makes his own mark with a unique pose and great design. Like the bassist, he gets a snappy bowtie. This time around it’s two rounded 1×1 tiles instead. Variety in building is on full display here. His standout feature is the beard. Like everything else, it’s done with minimal pieces to great, recognizable effect. The tooth tile is back for volume but the actual beard is a 1×2 plate with a slope/wing end. The hat is a slick touch as well which, I dunno, makes him so cool. I do wish his hands were possible to reposition the drum sticks. But that’s a minor detail and nothing to complain about.
Now check out those drums. The whole kit is there with five drums and three cymbals. Cylinder pieces easily make the smaller round drum shapes. To make the large bass drum, you need to make use of clever sideways building techniques. Subsequent assemblies clip into the gaps to create a nearly perfect circle. It all comes together nicely with the white and gray circular plates. Pieces with a printed ‘7’ on them add the only text found in the model. Even the stool crams in a lot of detail with those skinny metallic looking legs and seat. You’ll find the same details on the stands of the drums. And you can’t do better for cymbals than gold radar dishes. The whole shebang attaches to the base with a stud or two. It’s not the sturdiest connection possible, but it works.
A Grand Piano
Last and certainly not least is the be-a-utiful pianist. She looks incredible with her orange dress and big, bold updo of a hairstyle. This really screams soulful and talented artist. I can literally hear her smooth voice and passionate playing. I hope you do too from the photos. Building it all really brings that to life for me. You build her seated, which is a very different construction technique compared to the others (even the drummer). As I said earlier I appreciate the diversity of having her be heavier set. A little more representation than originally submitted. Her hair is that big ‘ol beehive and I loooove that band/tiara detail. Bare shoulders show off the lovely skin tone that wonderfully compliments the orange of the dress.
The piano is easily the largest and most eye-catching feature of the build. At this scale you get so many details like the interior mallets, lid, ornate legs and pedals. Those black and gold details are perfect. And I really love how the seven printed 1×2 key tiles make it almost a full set of 88 keys. Just one more tile and we coulda had it. The bench mimics a traditional red tufted seat and attaches to the player. Her leg also bends at the right angle to be using the pedals (ditto with the drummer). One minor concern here is the connection. The piano is attached to the base with only two of the three legs (one stud each). Aaaannnd that’s not much for a big object. So like the drums, careful with this one or it’s a Looney Tunes-esque catastrophe.
The Jazz Quartet (21334) is a totally rewarding and fun build. One of the best that I can remember. There’s so many clever techniques during assembly. And you can’t help but love the NPU scattered throughout. Right down to the aesthetics and design details, I can’t praise it enough. It all feels so refreshingly original. I could deduct a point or two for the minimal connections and stability in spots, but frankly, it’s not enough to warrant doing so. Each portion is unique but consistent in the execution. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m giving this build a perfect 100% score.
The Jazz Quartet (21334) is a celebration of music, culture and the brick. Let’s be real, this isn’t a play set – although that would be very cool. It’s a display piece and I have to say it’s one of the better ones in either the Ideas or general LEGO®️ catalogue. This is very much in an 18+, ‘For Adults’ category and it shows when finished. But young builders will enjoy the challenge too – especially if building with family. Having four separate instruction books will make for quality building time together. The abstract aesthetic is very original and stands on its own. MOC makers will also get a lot of inspiration for build techniques. Real world objects are so fun to realize in brick form – almost a challenge to make ’em better and better. Well here’s a great way to practice.
There’s a fun energy to this that’s quite mature and immediately iconic. My imagination really fills in stage lights, haze and that lovely jazz sound. I can’t remember the last time a set did that for me. But I think the originality of the subject matter and that it was chosen by public votes and the LEGO®️ team adds a lot more symbolism and weight to this set. I already spoke on representation but it bears repeating. Here we get an unapologetically black art form being celebrated and it’s lovely. We need more of this and I hope this gets the ball rolling. If you give this set a go, you’ll enjoy it on a few if not many levels. Perfects scores again – 100%.
The Jazz Quartet (21334) is my first perfect score. Many a set has come close, but I really think this easily warranted praise and recommendation. Yes, mileage will vary and some of you will be saying “Omg Frank, relax, it’s just fine…” And those people will be wrong!!!! I’m KIDDING of course. In either case I hope you check this one out and appreciate it as fully as I managed to.
Q U I C K R E C A P
- Gorgeous details throughout
- Accurate instrument designs
- Fun build experience
- NPU/techniques are top tier
- Lovely representation of black culture and art
- Exceptional value
- Makes a great display piece
- Can be built by 4 people at once
- Base could use more technic connections to combine both halves
- Minimal attachments on the piano and drums can make it fragile to move
- …But that’s it!
And that is the Jazz Quartet friends. I really wanted to review this for Black History Month and I juuuuust managed to get it in there. I’m also happy to see one of my favourite brands making some efforts at diversity and representation. The key is to keep having these conversations and pushing for more. Let’s celebrate each other through the brick and learn something in the process. Now let me know what you think. Did you pick up the Jazz Quartet already? Did you vote for it when it was submitted? What other music styles would you like to see in a set? Comment below and let me know all your thoughts. Thanks as always for reading and until next time, keep on brickin’. 🧱
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