Sunday, 20 March 2011

Jackie McLean - On Mars

I just couldn't resist posting this documentary on Jackie McLean, just one of the greatest jazz musicians ever. I really loved (and got turned onto) Jackie via the records with Grachan Moncur III, which are just the antitheses of a combination of melody and playing 'almost' free. Jackie McLean really understood the possibilities of combining the two worlds of straight ahead and free jazz, he made a set of burning records with Blue Note which are milestones in the genre. He seemed to not be afraid to embrace the two worlds, and saw the possibilities in both 'ways'. Interestingly he also seems to have developed the use of modal playing into the be-bop form with his classic One Step Beyond and Destination Out, and if you ever get a chance to hear his record 'Bout Soul, a record he made with Rashid Ali among others, you'll hear Jackie approaching music from a very 'free form' angle, even though (so I read) most of the music is composed. Anyhow, this is just about as far out as Jackie got, sounding something between Ornette Coleman's - Free Jazz and John Coltrane's - Ascension. And even though i talk about that one should remember that he played fantastic be-bop (and blues) Sonny Clark's 'Cool Strutin', Freddie Red's 'The Connection' or his own Bluesnik are great testaments to that side of his playing.  

There's much more that one could write about Jackie but that's not really the point of this posting, it's just to make this documentary easily viewable, and I suppose to maybe 'hip' some people to the talents of this great musician. 

Just in case anybody (who doesn't already know Jackie McLean) is interested to look into the work of this great man I can thoroughly recommend the following albums, most of which are easily findable and often at very cheap prices. All the records would get 5 stars .... no problem!

New Soil (1959)
Jackie's Bag (1959–60)
Bluesnik (1961)
A Fickle Sonance (1961)
Let Freedom Ring (1962)
Vertigo (1962–63)
One Step Beyond (1963)
Destination... Out! (1963)
Jacknife (1965)
New and Old Gospel (1967)
'Bout Soul (1967)
Demon's Dance (1967)

Here's the few that I haven't heard as yet - (just not enough time and money). But you can easily find peoples opinions on these at All Music or Amazon etc, and I'm sure they're all just as killing as the others. There's also all the other projects that he was involved in and his discography before 1959 and after 1967, there's plenty of good things to hear there also. Maybe I'll write a posting at some point in the future.

Swing, Swang, Swingin' (1959)
Capuchin Swing (1960)
Tippin' the Scales (1962)
It's Time! (1964)
Action Action Action (1964)
Right Now! (1965)
New and Old Gospel (1967)
'Bout Soul (1967)
Demon's Dance (1967)

It's such a shame there isn't any (not that I've seen) Jackie stuff up on YouTube and the likes with Jackie in the 60's. However from time you find stuff that's not in Jackie's final period, maybe not his best but still great to see. Here's another that I found with Tete Montoliu.


  1. Jackie McLean lived for years here in Connecticut, raising a delightful family with his wife Dollie and creating a singular community arts school, The Artists Collective. Rene McLean has come home to pick up the reins of his fathers work at the Collective and at the Jackie McLean Institute at Hartt School.

    Dig Jackie's direct influence on younger players such as Steve Lehman.

    We are all local artists, members of communities, wherever we choose to live. Jackie McLean understood the meaning of that deeply. We miss him!

  2. Thanks Stephen for the comment. I find Jackie Mclean is such a great influence on what it means to play music AND the community as a whole.

    I think he would have had a lot in common with Horace Tapscott if they'd had the chance to play and record together. Horace believed (from what I've read) in music and community, and of course freedom of expression also!

    Hope you drop by again to check out the blog.


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