Jackie McLean

Jacknife [1975 2 LP]

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The dynamic music on this two-LP set was released for the first time in 1975, although it has since been reissued as part of Mosaic's four-CD Jackie McLean box set. It is surprising that the music was originally overlooked, because both of these sessions have more than their share of brilliant moments. Altoist McLean teams up with trumpeters Lee Morgan and Charles Tolliver (the brass men play two songs apiece and are both on "Soft Blue") along with pianist Larry Willis, bassist Larry Ridley, and drummer Jack DeJohnette on the earlier date. Most memorable is Tolliver's atmospheric "On the Nile," but all of the selections (essentially modal hard bop with some influences from the avant-garde) are quite notable. However, it is the later session, a quartet outing with Willis, DeJohnette and bassist Don Moore, that really finds McLean playing at the peak of his expressive powers. His open style makes occasional shrieks, screams, and honks fit in logically as part of his improvisations, and his solos (check out the lengthy "High Frequency") are quite adventurous yet logical. This important music is essential, in one form or another, for all followers of advanced jazz.

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