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Discussion Starter #1
I have been listening to Jackie for close to 45 years and I have never tired of listening to him, or changed my opinion that he is (was, sadly) one of the most powerfully moving voices in Jazz. I personally find him the most evocative alto player ever because of his many strengths: incredible chops and improvisational skills, a distinctive instantly recognizable voice, and incredible creative output as a composer of profound depth who was instrumental in expanding the idiom of Bop into Hardbop and then to an even more angularly-distinctive and compositionally arresting Out-Hardbop.

On top of that he was a great leader whose studio groups, comprised of some of the best musicians of that time or any time, produced an enormous library of profound recordings, which I have collected and enjoyed endless times. So deep was his creative output that for me, even after 40 some years of listening to them they still engage my mind and stir my soul in the most fulfilling ways.

Naturally I have formed attachments to some albums &/cuts more than others over the years and I am curious to find out, from those who feel about Jackie as I do (or not), which of his albums or cuts have affected you the most.

For me:

1st (and foremost) A Fickle Sonance, both the album and especially the title cut which IMHO marked a real change into Mcleanian hardbop (first hinted at on New Soil) from the more melodic swinging still straight-bop-inflected playing of Jackie's Bag and Swing, Swang, Swinging . I have returned to it time and again, and it never fails to astound me.

2) Destination Out w/ his own incredible composition Kahlil the Prophet and the Moncur masterwork, Love and Hate. Another biggie.

3) Let Freedom Ring

4) It's Time

5) Right Now

6) The Music From The Connection (actually led by Freddie Redd) great music from the Living Theater Off-Bway production that Jackie starred in. I was fortunate and got to see it during its first run.

And You...?:)
 

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Right Now and It's Time are both great albums. I'm especially fond of the stuff he did with Grachan Moncur III (I forget their titles, just that they're all in the Mosaic Select GMIII box).

Also, don't forget his stuff on Steeplechase, including The Source and The Meeting with Dexter Gordon!

And Old and New Gospel with Ornette, while not necessarily Jackie's best, is certainly worth a listen or twenty.
 

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Jazz is All, I'm a McLean neophyte - I've only been listening to his stuff for 30 years - but I agree with everything you say. For the angular neo-bop McLean - and his alto at its most beautiful - I love Destination Out. For his more expressionist side, the two LP Jacknife is my favorite. I especially love the contrasting styles of McLean and pianist Larry Willis on the second disk. And a little compositional gem that still kills me after all of these years is Appointment in Ghana.

Among his many strengths, Jackie was always great at helping young talent work its way up the ranks: Tony Williams, Charles Tolliver, and others during his playing-only days and many others once he took up his teaching and community activities in Hartford starting in the 1970s.
 

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New Soil and Swing, Swang, Swingin'
Now that I think about it, my favorite Jackie of all time isn't even on a record. For a few years, he and Cedar Walton played the Vanguard right around Christmas (Cedar still does it, usually with Vincent Herring). Victor Lewis and Kenny Washington both made it at various times, but the best was the couple of years when Billy Higgins did it. He was coming back from his second(!?) liver transplant, and was a little weak at times, but when he was feeling good the combination of him and Jackie and Cedar (with David Williams on bass) literally had people screaming and yelling. The atmosphere inside the Vanguard was unlike anything I've ever seen before or since. And Jackie sounded absolutely incredible, the combination of his Bird based vocabulary and his more abstract "Planet X Sh*t" (as Eric Alexander characterised it to me) was just unbelievable. The sound of J-Mac playing "The Christmas Song" at the Village Vanguard Christmas week with Cedar, David, and Billy is something I'll remember for as long as i live.
 

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I have every Jackie album I can get my hands on. You can keep Cannonball and all the rest of the happy boppers. Jackie serves it up straight and in your face the way I like it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Eulipion2 said:
I'm especially fond of the stuff he did with Grachan Moncur III (I forget their titles, just that they're all in the Mosaic Select GMIII box).
Grachan played on Jackie's albums One Step Beyond, Destination Out, Hipnosis, and 'Bout Soul and then Jackie played on Moncur's first record as leader Evolution. U R right, these sides are great for the various line-ups of guys like Tony Williams, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw or Billy Higgins, and the ever-incredible Bobby Hutcherson, as well as for Moncur's excellent compositions.

Chitownjazz: Please don't get me wrong, I didn't say that as some kind of one-up-manship and mean to imply that I have more knowledge or better insight just because of the length of time I've been listening, rather that after all these years I still find Jackie's music as fresh and meaningful as it was when he recorded it. Everytime I listen to one of these 40+ year old albums is a new experience with new feelings and nuances, even though many are familiar friends. But then again, that's one of the reasons why I have always loved Jazz.

I agree w/ you about Appointment in Ghana; it's an arresting piece of music. Funny you mentioned Charles Tolliver, as last night while I was posting this thread I was listening to It's Time and was about to mention, but didn't, his composition Revillot (Tolliver backwards) as one I particularly like.


milomo said:
Now that I think about it, my favorite Jackie of all time isn't even on a record. For a few years, he and Cedar Walton played the Vanguard right around Christmas.
What an incredible experience! Thanks for writing about it as I had no idea. Unfortunately I moved away from NY at the beginning of the '70s so missed out on all that. Records are great, but there's no substitute for music live.
 

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With Freddie Redd, "Music from The Connection"
 

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Jazz Is All said:
...Chitownjazz: Please don't get me wrong, I didn't say that as some kind of one-up-manship and mean to imply that I have more knowledge or better insight just because of the length of time I've been listening, rather that after all these years I still find Jackie's music as fresh and meaningful as it was when he recorded it. Everytime I listen to one of these 40+ year old albums is a new experience with new feelings and nuances, even though many are familiar friends. But then again, that's one of the reasons why I have always loved Jazz.
...
Oops, I should have included a wink - I just wish I had been listening to him for 45 years too! I'm pleased to discover another McLean-iac on the forum. Now we stand a better chance arguing against all those well-meaning but mis-guided Phil Woods fans ;) ;) ;)
 

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I need to check this guy out. Thanks for the recomendations!
 

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A great one not mentioned is his duo lp with Michael Carvin "Antiquity". One of the times I saw Jackie was this duo and man was it smokin'. At the Keystone Korner way back when. Another time he was there with the Blakey All-Stars which also included Johnny Griffin and Curtis Fuller. Hows that for a front line? I also like the live Steeplechase stuff with Dexter Gordan.
 

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BarrySachs said:
Jackie's Bag
Bluesnick
Capuchin Swing
I forgot to mention Art Blakey's "Hard Bop" w/Jackie. Dig the crazy arrangement of "Stella by Starlight"!
 

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Kritavi said:
A great one not mentioned is his duo lp with Michael Carvin "Antiquity". ...
That's his best album from the 70s IMHO. A lot of African influence.

A later album that is very good is Rhythm of the Earth.

Jackie played such a range of styles, from his early bop stuff to pretty out there things, there's something for almost everyone to like. And probably something for most people to dislike, too. I like almost all of it, though his earliest bebop stuff is my least favorite. But then again he was only 19 when he started recording that stuff.

It's been a while since I've posted my favorite little Jackie McLean story. He recounted how he was working very hard at getting his Bird chops together while he was working with Mingus, and Mingus would frustrate him with a jab that went something like "That's great, but when are you going to let Jackie McLean out of jail?"

Soon enough Charles, as it turned out.
 

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Kritavi said:
Another time he was there with the Blakey All-Stars which also included Johnny Griffin and Curtis Fuller. Hows that for a front line?
Hey Kritavi I saw him with this lineup at Keystone also! Could be we were there the same night (surely it was the same week). I don't remember exactly when this was, but probably mid-late '70s.

Jackie was fantastic. He's right at the top of my list of alto players, up there next to Bird. So many great recordings and I don't have near enough of them. I really like the album "Let Freedom Ring." But he sounded great on everything he played.

Yeah, in your face, no holds barred, but beautiful. Never sickly-sweet sentimental (like so many "smooth jazz" artists), he always cut right to the bone!
 

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Late 70's sounds right. They would do those big shows for a week leading up to New Years Eve. Wasn't that just the greatest place? It was part of why I chose San Francisco to move to and I got to hear many of the now departed greats.
 

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Martinman said:
I need to check this guy out. Thanks for the recomendations!
You're not the only one. Thanks from me too. I just got on a notify list for Swing, Swang, Swingin'.
 

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Kritavi said:
Late 70's sounds right. They would do those big shows for a week leading up to New Years Eve. Wasn't that just the greatest place? It was part of why I chose San Francisco to move to and I got to hear many of the now departed greats.
Yeah, a fantastic club. And there's nothing like it anymore, unfortunately. I saw so many great players there, it would take me all night long to list them. I lived within walking distance to Keystone in the early '70s and kept going there after moving across the Bay until the place closed. I saw Jackie McClean there a few times, including the Blakey show.
 

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I was lucky enough to play there a couple of times. I was part of a free jazz collective called the Blue Dolphin and Todd Barkan held a benefit for us on a sunday afternoon. Another time I played there with the SF State Jazz Band.
 
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