Jackie McLean

New York Calling

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Jackie McLean's band on New York Calling, the Cosmic Brotherhood, plays with uncompromising passion, fury, and intelligence. The group, a generation younger than the leader, has a sound that is definitive '70s advanced hard bop. Although not as well-known as some of their contemporaries, by the time of this 1974 recording, the members of McLean's quintet had logged playing time with many of the leaders of the hard bop scene: McCoy Tyner, Gary Bartz, Sam Rivers, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, and others. In addition to exceptional chops, the band has strong writers in trumpeter Billy Skinner and pianist Billy Gault. Their tightly voiced arrangements, punctuated by roiling power surges from the rhythm section, call to mind the work of Woody Shaw, whose classic Moontrane was also recorded in 1974. However, where Shaw's music possesses an urbane, majestic poise, Skinner and Gault go for a skittering, street-level urgency. McLean, recognizing the powerful talents in his midst -- including McLean's son, René, on tenor, alto, and soprano sax -- comes across as one among equals. It's to McLean's credit that the date bears the stamp of his band's artistry as much as it does his own.

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