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Presenting Jackie Mclean

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Album Review

This is early Jackie McLean, caught in a brief period of time where he was still laboring under the all-pervasive influence of Charlie Parker and (incidentally-pervasive handicap) of heroin. As such, although McLean's output was prolific under the benign watch of Bob Weinstock at Prestige, the pickings of genuinely memorable music are rather slim. Indeed, McLean himself is said to have disparaged his Prestige period — and even in this "Best Of" situation, what we hear are hit-or-miss, thrown-together, conventional blowing sessions. "Strange Blues" is just a straight-ahead jam on the blues, albeit with some shifts in the rhythm to keep everyone alert. The ballads are often rather routine, even slovenly in preparation ("Mirage") in spots. Neither McLean nor his sparring partner, altoist John Jenkins, are in particularly inspired form in their nearly 12-minute encounter "Alto Madness" — both relying heavily upon Parker for sustenance. "Sentimental Journey" is better than most, more interesting in its invention, and "Lights Out" — said to have been recorded literally in the dark — does have an appealingly boozy ambience in its wandering. It's important to remember that this music was recorded well before McLean matured into a unique stylist, so at best, it's a supplement to his later recordings. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: May 17, 1932 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Jackie McLean has long had his own sound, played slightly sharp and with great intensity; he is recognizable within two notes. McLean was one of the few bop-oriented players of the early '50s who explored free jazz in the '60s, widening his emotional...
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