Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jackie Mclean RIP

The fantastic Jackie Mclean died last week at the age of 73. I can't let his passing go unnoticed. Jackie is my favorite alto sax player -- as with all of the greats, the ideas behind the axe are what makes the musician. Jackie had this sharp intonation on the horn that set him apart in seconds upon hearing of four notes. He used that tone to great effect; it lent a sense of urgency to his uptempo work, and kept his ballad readings from becoming overly sentimental or syrupy.

He was able to mix a total command of the bop language with an ear for the New Thing players of the day, including Ornette Coleman. They played together on the album featured above. This was one of Ornette's very rare sideman appearances. One might conclude that Coleman regarded Jackie so much as to play on his record. Quite a compliment.

I will treasure all of his mid-1960s recordings on the Blue Note label, with that piercing tone giving a gospel shout, a impassioned call for justice, or a tender sentiment. At least we will have them to remember the great Jackie Mac.

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