Jackie McLean

From Academic Kids

John Lenwood (Jackie) McLean (born May 17, 1932) is an American jazz alto saxophonist and educator, born in New York City. His father, John Sr., who died in 1939, played guitar in Tiny Bradshaw's orchestra. After his father's death, his musical education was continued by his godfather, by his stepfather, who owned a record store, and by several noted teachers. He also received informal tutoring from neighbours Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Charlie Parker. During high school his friends included Sonny Rollins and Kenny Drew.

He recorded with Miles Davis when he was 19 years old. As a young man he also recorded with Gene Ammons, Charles Mingus, George Wallington, and, as a member of the Jazz Messengers, with Art Blakey. His early recordings as leader were in the hard bop school. He later became an exponent of modal jazz without abandoning his foundation in hard bop. Throughout his career he has been known for his distinctive tone (often described with such adjectives as withering, piercing, or searing), his slightly sharp pitch, and a strong foundation in blues .

McLean was a heroin addict throughout his early career, and the resulting loss of his New York City cabaret licence forced him to undertake a large number of recording dates; consequently he produced a large body of recorded work in the 1950s and 60s. He was under contract with Blue Note Records from 1959 to 1967. Blue Note offered better pay and more artistic control than other labels, and his work for Blue Note is highly regarded.

In 1962 he recorded Let Freedom Ring for Blue Note. This album was the culmination of attempts he had made over the years to deal with harmonic problems in jazz, especially in soloing on his piece "Quadrangle." Let Freedom Ring began a period in which he performed with avant-garde musicians rather than the veteran hard bop performers he had been performing with. His recordings from 1962 on, in which he adapted modal and free jazz to hard bop, made his body of work distinctive.

In 1964, he served six months in prison on drug charges. The period immediately after his release from prison is known as his acid period because the three albums he released during it were much harsher in tone than his previous albums.

In 1967 his recording contract, like the contracts of many other progressive musicians, was terminated by Blue Note's new management. His opportunities to record promised so little pay that he abandoned recording as a way to earn a living, concentrating instead on touring. In 1968 he began teaching at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford. He later set up the university's African American Music Department (now the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, of which he remains artistic director) and its Jazz Studies degree program.

In 1970 he and his wife Dollie founded the Artists' Collective, Inc. of Hartford, an organization dedicated to preserving the art and culture of the African Diaspora. It provides educational programs and instruction in dance, theatre, music and visual arts.

His son RenÚ is a jazz saxophonist and flautist as well as a jazz educator.

Contents

Selected recordings

  • Swing, Swang, Swingin' (1959)
  • New Soil (1959)
  • Bluesnik (1961)
  • Jackie's Bag (1961)
  • Let Freedom Ring (1962)
  • One Step Beyond (1963)
  • Destination...Out! (1963)
  • Vertigo (1963)
  • Jacknife (sic) (1965)
  • Ode to Super (1973)
  • Dr. Jackle (1979; recorded in 1966)
  • Contour (1980)
  • Dynasty (1990)
  • Nature Boy (2000)

Sidemen

As a leader McLean has recorded with:

External link

Sources

  • A. B. Spellman, Four Jazz Lives (originally Four Lives in the Bebop Business). University of Michigan Press
  • All Music Guide (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/x.dll?p=amg&sql=B6185)
  • MusicWeb (http://www.musicweb.uk.net/encyclopaedia/)
  • NEA Jazz Masters (http://www.iaje.org/bio.asp?ArtistID=2)fr:Jackie McLean
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