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chris olivarez

Jackie McLean RIP

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AP reports that Jackie McLean passed away today at his home in Hartford after a lengthy illness. He was 73. Another one of the greats is gone. :(

Edited by chris olivarez

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whoa! :(:(

Rest in Peace, dear Jackie.

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What??? :o

Damn.

RIP, Jackie.

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Jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean dies at 73

HARTFORD, Connecticut --Jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, a performer and educator who played with legendary musicians including Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, died Friday. He was 73.

McLean, a contemporary of some of the 20th century's most famed jazz musicians, died at his Hartford home after a long illness, family members told The Hartford Courant.

McLean was founder and artistic director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford's Hartt School. He and his wife, actress Dollie McLean, also founded the Artists Collective, a community center and fine arts school in Hartford's inner city primarily serving troubled youth.

University of Hartford President Walter Harrison said Dollie McLean called him Friday with news of her husband's death.

Harrison said that despite his many musical accomplishments, McLean was a modest man whose connections with his students lasted for decades after they left his classroom.

"He fully understood the way that jazz as an art should be passed down to students," Harrison said. "He saw his role as bringing jazz from the 1950s and '60s and handing it down to artists of today."

McLean, a native of Harlem in New York City, grew up in a musical family, his father playing guitar in Tiny Bradshaw's band. McLean took up the soprano saxophone as a teen and quickly switched to the alto saxophone, inspired by his godfather's performances in a church choir, he told WBGO-FM in Newark, New Jersey, in an interview in 2004.

McLean went on to play with his friend Rollins from 1948-49 in a Harlem neighborhood band under the tutelage of pianist Bud Powell. Through Powell, McLean met bebop pioneer Charlie "Bird" Parker, who became a major influence on the young alto saxophonist.

He made his first recording when he was 19 on Miles Davis' "Dig" album, also featuring Rollins, which heralded the beginning of the hard-bop style.

In the 1950s, McLean also played with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, experiences that he credited with helping him find his own style.

"I never really sounded like Bird, but that was my mission," McLean said in the WBGO radio interview. "I didn't care if people said that I copied him; I loved Bird's playing so much. But Mingus was the one that really pushed me away from the idea and forced me into thinking about having an individual sound and concept."

McLean made his first recording as a leader in 1955. He drew wide attention with his 1959 debut on Blue Note Records, "Jackie's Bag," one of dozens of albums he recorded in the hard-bop and free jazz styles for the label over the next eight years. His 1962 album "Let Freedom Ring" found him performing with avant-garde musicians.

In 1959-60, he acted in the off-Broadway play "The Connection," about jazz musicians and drug addiction. McLean, a heroin addict during his early career, later went on to lecture on drug addiction research.

In 1968, after Blue Note terminated his recording contract, McLean began teaching at the University of Hartford. He taught jazz, African-American music, and African-American history and culture, setting up the university's African American Music Department, which later was named in his honor.

He took a break from recording for much of the 1980s to focus on his work as a music educator, but made his recording comeback in 1988 with "Dynasty," and later re-signed with Blue Note. His last Blue Note recordings included "Fire and Love" (1998), featuring his youthful Macband with son Rene McLean on tenor saxophone, and the ballads album "Nature Boy" (2000).

He received an American Jazz Masters fellowship, the nation's highest jazz honor, from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001, and toured the world as an educator and performer.

Edited by Aggie87

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One of the all time greats.

R.I.P.

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"Jazz is a happy thing and there are a lot of musicians around waiting to give a little happiness to a world filled with so much unrest."

There's one less tonight... Thank you, Mr. McLean. I know you gave so many of us more than just a little happiness over the years... :(

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Aw fuck.

RIP.

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mcleanpage.jpg

Very sad. He was one of the greats, one of the Blue Note kings. RIP.

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Sad indeed. The world needs more people who combine greatness and humility, not less.

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Terrible news. I can think of few saxophonists whose music's meant as much to me over the years.

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I was late to the party on Jackie Mac, but once there thanks to Nessa, had the good fortune to see him a number of times, including in close quarters in 1992 on jazz cruise dedicated to Dizzy when J allowed me to interview him. Was at his birthday celebration at the Iridium a couple of years ago and saw him amid his family as well as knocking another band into shape on stage. Man, I thought he'd go on forever. He was so much more powerful than Grachan Moncur at their Chicago Jazz Festival Reunion in the (was it 1990's, that long ago?) His music will go on forever. Rest in peace music messenger.

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Listening to "Shades of Redd" on the radio now. A listener sent in this article:

JACKIE McLEAN: Sugar Free Saxophone

by Mike Zwerin

24 September 1998

PARIS - Jackie McLean was looking for the common tone, to be able to move between all 12 tonal centers with total freedom and under complete control. The listener should know nothing about this. In order for this to work, the force must be emotional not technical.

One night, during his two weeks at the Magnetic Terrace here in Paris, he felt he got pretty close to something he's been searching for for a long time. But those breakthroughs come and go and maybe don't really come at all and after a few days had passed he was no longer so sure. Anyway he's still playing and trying.

McLean is among the few remaining evergreens with enough will and force to motivate themselves night after night despite age, a demanding métier, prejudice, tangents and contrary trends. His alto-saxophone style combines the solid texture of Sonny Rollins's tenor and the fluidity of Bud Powell's piano - shorthand, but true enough as far as it goes. His angular-phrased tough, seductive, sound is as unmistakably recognizable as anybody active today. He calls it "sugar free."

Which may or may not have Freudian implications because he grew up on Sugar Hill, once a noble corner in Harlem which then soured into drugs and shoot-outs. "The streets were clean when I was a kid there," he said, at once proud and sour about it.

"Duke Ellington, Nat Cole and Don Redman lived in the neighborhood. People cared about our neighborhood."

McLean, who was born in 1932, heard Charlie Parker at the age of 14 and "the first time that name came out of my mouth I knew at that moment I was going to be a musician." Five years later, he joined Miles Davis.

Looking back, he wondered: "How did I do it that fast?" He was fast and furious in his early 20s. "When I was strung out on dope my horn was in the pawn shop most of the time and I was a most confused and troublesome young man. I was constantly on the street, in jail, or in a hospital kicking a habit.

"The New York police had snatched my cabaret card and I couldn't work the clubs any more except with [Charles] Mingus who used to hire me under an assumed name. [He can be heard already moving between tonal centers on Mingus's record 'Pithecanthropus Erectus' in the '50s.] The thing that saved my life was a Jackie McLean Fan Club started in 1958 by a guy named Jim Harrison. I didn't have a big name or anything but he collected dues and he'd rent a hall once a month and present me in concert."

McLean played the saxophonist - four years at $95 a week - in the first Living Theater production of the "The Connection," an off-Broadway milestone which cast a new perspective on the nature of make-believe.

The junkie hustling the audience in the lobby turned out to be an actor, the hostile woman in the mezzanine was part of the cast. Some of the actors were addicts, but you weren't sure who. Actors playing characters on stage never looked the same again. "I fell in love with theater then and there," McLean said. "Even my saxophone playing became a lot more theatrical after that."

Remebering how lean and mean he looked in those days, like an early James Dean, and seeing him turn 60 with a girth approaching the late Sydney Greenstreet, it was astonishing how the lust to take risks can be, if anything, greater 35 years later. There has never been and there certainly was not now anything approaching fat or phlegmatic about this man's head.

The following is a story about the old days told without punctuation during a run to a pharmacy to buy a cornucopia of homeopathic medicines (similar runs were once made for cough syrup or a lot worse):

"Sonny Rollins and me were sitting in this club and suddenly the door opened and it's Sonny Stitt and he said 'okay I've been waiting for this,' and he had an alto under one arm and a tenor under another and it was like 'High Noon' or something and he said 'you're both hot stuff from New York and you both think you can play well I'll take on both of you up on the killing stand come on get up there on the killing post both of you.'"

Those were tough and competitive times and survival was day-to-day. Stitt did not survive, while McLean and Rollins were still picking up steam, combining honed intelligence with renewed energy at an age when most men are well into retirement.

It may or may not be coincidence, but both had strong wives who managed their careers. McLean said his wife Dolly "stood up when other women would have crumpled, or killed me. For years, she was the one who worked day jobs to keep us and our three kids together. I really owe her."

Both McLean and Rollins also paced themselves by retiring from full-time playing for years during their middle age. Rollins periodically left for such places as India, upstate New York and the Brooklyn Bridge to meditate. McLean joined the faculty of the highly rated Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford in Connecticut in 1970, and he became chairman of its African-American music department.

The department was established, he had a National Endowment for the Arts grant for his chair and he could afford to bring in guest lecturers when he was away. So he "came back on the scene for real. My original mission is still the same. I intend to try and continue to be significant on the instrument.

Not just 'Jackie McLean, oh I remember him.' But to be at the forefront of the horn. I'm ready to kick the doors down."

Photo: Jackie McLean.

Credit: Christian Rose

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Jackie McLean resided in Hartford, Conn., and died at his home.

From the Hartford Courant today!

SAX MASTER NEVER LOST HIS PASSION

Stan Simpson

April 1 2006

I was always fond of telling folks that the great Jackie McLean - Hartford guy and jazz legend - is recognized as the greatest living alto saxophone player in the world.

I was talking about the future of Hartford Thursday to political science professor Darryl McMiller's class at the University of Hartford. I reminded the students that McLean, director of UHart's Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, was one of the campus' premiere assets.

He brought the university cultural cachet and worldwide jazz credibility in his three decades there. At the same time, McLean and wife, Dollie, became Hartford's first couple of the arts. They founded the Artists Collective, and opened a sterling building on Albany Avenue, a few blocks from campus. Hundreds of city and suburban children are trained there each year.

The death Friday of the ailing McLean, at 74, is huge.

Expect the jazz world, Connecticut and his legions of fans and protégés to come out and celebrate his remarkable life.

This was a New York City kid who overcame a heroin addiction, poverty, and racism. Despite his struggles, he stayed so disciplined and passionate about his craft that he gained global fame. Even in his late 60s and early 70s, McLean was gigging around the world to Japan or Europe.

I was an unabashed admirer - and frankly I'm not even much of a jazz buff. I simply appreciated McLean's resilience, his advocacy for black empowerment, his dedication to his gift and his commitment to uplifting others, including protégés such as Nat Reeves, Steve Davis and Jimmy Greene.

Plus, McLean put the C in cool.

We'd chat on the rare occasions I'd see him out, always vowing to one day do an extensive interview. I saw him perform on several occasions and he always made sure his ensemble received the love from an audience that came to see him.

University of Hartford President Walter Harrison remembers arriving eight years ago and staying overnight at a family's house in north Hartford. Jackie and Dollie came by for a visit and Harrison says he was a little nervous about meeting the celebrity musician, until they started talking.

"He was such a classy guy," said Harrison, reached Friday night in Indianapolis where he is attending an NCAA conference and the men's Final Four.

"There was a presence about him and a warmth. ... This is a devastating loss to the world of jazz. Jackie was one of the giants of the jazz world. Maybe, THE giant.

"He not only was a musician, but someone who inspired generations of jazz musicians," Harrison said. "He also was a magnificent teacher. There are generations of University of Hartford students who learned about jazz and life from Jackie."

McMiller was hanging out last night in the city at Tisane's with Rich McGhee, an alto sax player from Hartford who studied McLean's music. Both are fans. Both were saddened.

"I'm in shock," McMiller said. "He's a national treasure. He was a musician, an educator and he helped launch the career of numerous people on the scene now, and of course [his work in co-founding] the Artists Collective."

McGhee, 50, said he remembers McLean's music of the 1960s and 1970s. He'll remember McLean for incorporating "political activism into modern jazz" and for being outspoken about equal rights.

"He was an aware black man who knew his place in the world," McGhee said.

And the jazz world will keep a place in its heart for one of its pioneers.

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Sad news indeed. RIP, Jackie Mac.

mclean.gif

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(screaming inside)

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hello everyone, my friend just informed me that Jackie McLean died. He did not give any details but time to go play his great "Embraceable You" solo with Jimmy Smith :( Damn.

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damn... :( But what a GREAT career... what a giver... what a man.

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