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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,260 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Here we is a very unsung Chi town tenor player-
I have more on this man but this will be ok for now.

I used to live in Chicago at the old Maryland Hotel on Rush St
in 70's when I was playing with Jack McDuff or Don Patterson <years later as well with Milt Trenier- the younger brother of the famed Trenier Brothers- a house rocking show band with deep R n' B roots > There was a sax player who lived in the hotel named Buster..he was a local guy and knew ALL the spots to jam..hear people and like that.Get a fair price on your laundry,rent a cheap car for a day off,other stuff I dare not mention on here because it's a family show, kinda a hip concierge if you will.

Buster played a great white brillhardt piece too that Frank Wells re-faced in the 60's.He had a killer King Super 20- that was in great shape.He'd let me play it in the afternoons, and he'd tell me his famous story of the_day_he went to the King Company in Cleveland to buy it with sax legend Joe Alexander. And it was a King just like Joes! Joe took him to the factory, and they picked the one with the best sound. As some might know Lovano has a song dedicated to Joe called "Alexander the Great," dedicated to tenor saxophonist Joe Alexander, who recorded with Tadd Dameron. Joe WAS a Cleveland guy.Buster told me that story two to three times a week too, sometimes at night in this after hours bar at 4am,or walking down the street for coffee in mid day. I never got tired of hearing it either.I think Buster also played with some Chi-town big bands but my memory is hazed on who. He also owned a shoe shine booth on a corner where he made some good cash/and sold his tapes and art work. He never shined there but owned the booth-and would "make a appearance" sometimes during the day. A tape player at the booth was always on with Sarah or something like that. Sometimes the stuff with Jug and Stitt. A cool guy- who I really respected in a street way. We'd hang in Busters room. He'd play stuff by Claude. It was a style like a harder Lester Young bag. Kinda like Wardell Grey...But more edgy. I'm a sucker for those post-Prez tenor guys..THe swing and the hard groove kills me. SO - also Von Freeman had made me tapes of Claude but since then they have bit the dust. I love Von to. This is a great player..Check the Charlie Parker record he is on.His feel and personal tenor statement is a breath of fresh air today. Below is the info I collected and can share with you guys on Claude- Hope you dig it- it's what I know so far!!


Claude McLin ... Tenor Legand -Unsung Master.

Claude McLin was a tenor saxophonist of the purest Lestorian persuasion.
He was born in 1926, place unknown. He served in the Army from 1944 to
1946, and seems to have moved to Chicago after his discharge. From 1946
through 1951 he led a combo in Chicago bars and nightclubs.

Claude McLin was an established presence in Chicago by the end of 46.From January to June 47, Claude McLin led the house band at the Pershing Hotel ballroom. On Sunday January 19, "McKie's Matinee Dances" opened with Claude McLin & His Orchestra. On February 1, a promo for the Feb. 2 dance showed McLin in a photo, surrounded by teenaged autograph seekers. On February 9, "McKie's Booster Ramble" now included the bands of "McLin, Freeman, Cosby" .

In March , there was a scheduled battle between Claude McLin and Johnny
Griffin. On May 9, Claude had the night off, but as the "McKie Booster
Favorite," he was promised to return on May 16, battling " Gene
Ammons (Billy Eckstine Favorite)." On May 24, the Chicago Defender ran a photo
of him with the caption "Claude McLin's swingsational sax will be featured at
the battle of the saxes being staged at the Pershing Ballroom by McKie
Fitzhugh..." At this point, Fitzhugh was running a tournament "to determine the
most popular sax player in Chicago." Whether Claude won the finals on June 15,
we don't know, but Fitzhugh may have wrapped up his Sunday dances for a while.

Still, with the extensive publicity Fitzhugh had generated, McLin had no
trouble finding work elsewhere. On June 21, 1947, "Claude McLin and his
2 Kings and a Queen" were appearing at Ciro's Lounge . This was located at
820 East 39th Street, not far from the Morocco Hotel and the Macomba Lounge. On
August 14, 1947, "the music of Claude McLin starring Gene Ammons" was
advertised for the Jazz at the Pershing series on August 17: "Both McLin and
Ammons are popular with patrons of the hall and there is every indication that the hall will be jammed."

Ciro's Lounge ad appeared, as did another on October 4 On October 25, Claude McLin and his 2 Kings and a Queen were still at Ciro's. On November 2, Claude "McLinn" was again at the Pershing; the timing of the dances seemed
calculated to draw a High School crowd.

Claude McLin became a frequent visitor at the
Macomba Lounge where Tom Archia led the house band. Tom needed a
replacement when he went out on the road with Hot Lips Page
(November-December 1947), but the Macomba could not have relied on him
during the week, as he was still at Ciro's.
. Most likely, he filled Monday nights and during the late hours sessions.
Unfortunately, none of Claude's tenor "battles" with Tom Archia were
recorded ( neither were his contests with Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Von
Freeman, and other local tenor stars )

On January 3, 1948, the New Savoy Ballroom welcomed Charlie "Yardbird"
Parker and His Orchestra along with Claude McLin and His Combo. McLin's
band settled in for a residency on January 11, and was paired with Duke
Ellington and his Orchestra on January 25. But the New Savoy did not keep its
doors open long.On March 6, Claude was back at Ciro's .

After Tom Archia's last session for the Aristocrat label (early October
1948), Leonard Chess and Evelyn Aron seem to have turned their attention
to Claude McLin. There are no advertisements for McLin from June 48
through early June 49, and he may have been resident at the Macomba
during part of this period . From 49 to 51, he and Gene Ammons were
Aristocrat and then Chess's top tenor saxophonists. Both had
hits in 1950 (Jug with "My Foolish Heart"; Claude with "Mona Lisa"). McLin,
however, quickly faded in 51 (his last session for the label was left in the
can) while Ammons' records continued to sell, as they still do today.

Claude McLin's first recording as a leader was on a rare Aristocrat
release that has been ignored since 49.
- Final note ; one of the best and most available sources to hear this unsung
giant of the tenor sax is on Charlie Parker's .." One Night in Chicago"..on
Savoy Records.This recording is a must.
Bird is playing top form and the tenor playing of Claude is stunning !
( SJL1132)

Without question Claudes tenor on " There's A Small Hotel " is on of the many highlights on this live Parker recording. THIS IS A SONIC EDUCATION FOR TENOR SAXOPHONE FREAKS !

You don't hear a tenor player like this every the record shops and used vinal stores.The search is well worth you time.

Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,260 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

Joints like the Maryland Hotel or the Milner Hotels all had weekly musician rates. Stuff like 19 dollars a week!
The Amtrack from Philly to Chicago for a bunk bed room was something like 35 bucks, and you got coffee and breakfast. It was a great ride, going through the sections of the USA and all. I am a railroad kinda guy to as my grandmother worked for the Reading Railroad.The railroad WAS my home town, she cleaned cars and such- talk about liberated women. Ya know? BUT- The point is there were gigs. In the Milt Trenier band I replaced Bobby Eldridge, a great basri player that was a Berklee friend. With McDuff I replaced Leo Johnson from Newark and years later David Young from Ohio.
What I learned...ON AND OFF...the bandstand was paramount to what is missing today. IMHO- Guys are not getting the proper gigs/road experience and musicial brotherhood that gells. Stuff sure changed but in those days there wasn't much to bitch about, stuff was happening and if you looked/ sat-in a all things happened. Nobody complained about working 6 MONTHS in a row on the road !!
I SAY THESE THINGS A LOT- And I know times are different.

Anyhow- It's almost 8 am here- and I can start to shed and deal with my music & horns.

Thanks for reading.

CHECK OUT CLAUDE~~~~~:mrgreen:

Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,260 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Great stuff as always Tim. I'm gonna give you a call as soon as I stop running........
COOL- Things are good. Talk soon :)
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