McLean, Jackiebyname of John Lenwood McLean, Jr.
(born May 17, 1932, New York, N.Y., U.S.) African-American jazz musician noted for the emotional intensity of his alto saxophone improvising.
From a musical family, McLean became known as a fine altoist in his teens and first recorded in 1951, with Miles Davis, playing Dig (also called Donna), a McLean theme that became a jazz standard. McLean played in Charles Mingus' and Art Blakey's groups, then won acclaim for his playing and his acting when he appeared with the Freddie Redd Quartet in the Off-Broadway hit The Connection (195960). Narcotics addiction interrupted his early career, but in the mid-1960s he toured internationally and then became a music teacher and drug counselor. From 1972 he was active in forming a department of Afro-American music within the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, Connecticut, and toured occasionally.
Initially inspired by Charlie Parker, McLean in time evolved an intense personal style featuring short phrases of irregular length, with considerable inventiveness and often little linear continuity. His saxophone tone grew darker, and the notes he played were microtonally sharp or flat, emphasizing the blues inclinations in his harmonic choices. At first he based his soloing on chord changes, but in his most creative period, the early and mid-1960s, he often used modal procedures as well, punctuating passionate solos with high-register screams reminiscent of John Coltrane's style. His quintet during this period included such outstanding young musicians as Grachan Moncur III (composer, trombone), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), and Tony Williams (drums). In later recordings McLean returned to the use of chord changes.
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