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Mark Stryker

Jackie McLean: Swing, Swang, Swingin'

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I noticed this morning that discographies list a version of "Tune Up" recorded at this date that's labeled "unissued." Has a copy of this track ever found its way into the world via legitimate or illegitimate sources?

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Definitely not legitimately. It would be interesting to know if it even survives. There are a number of stray tracks like this in Jackie's Blue Note discography and there might be enough for a CD. I have always been curious about the two extra tracks from the quintet half of Jackie's Bag.

So I looked it up - in addition to the three tracks mentioned above, there are only two other candidates listed in the discography, Climax and On The Nile from an earlier Jackknife session with Hutcherson instead of Willis. If those two are of comparable length to the issued versions, there could be 40 minutes of music in there.

I am leaving out an incomplete Secret Love from Destination Out, and the notorious 1968 session which Jackie did not want released and may be lost at this point.

This could be a good CD for Zev Feldman to follow up Just Coolin' with, but we don't know if the tracks survived and are releasable.

Edited by bertrand

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If i was A Comedian With No Conscience, who just took the jokes as they came, no matter, I could do a line about Jackie McLean's "Tune Up" never getting released - BECUASE IT NEVER HAPPENED!!!!

...but that would get a laugh from the wrong crowd and then as soon as they laughed I'd go all rage-y on their asses and tell them to go fuck off and die in hell.

Come to think of it, though, there's a market for that type of thing, right? Especially a post-retirement guy playing to nihilistic ironists?

Maybe this Social Security won't be so important after all, eh?

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He recorded Tune Up on the Fat Jazz record though, so the joke doesn't work. In fact, that version starts and ends with a joke.

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This raises a point: just how bad are the many "rejected" or "unissued" Blue Note tracks? The decision not to issue in the CD reissue era was mainly that of Michael Cuscuna. We owe him a great debt for all of his hard work and persistence over many years, but, with all due respect to him, others should be allowed to make such decisions.

This discussion is rather theoretical in view of the fact that CDs are not issued much anymore and the question of economics comes into it. Nevertheless, there is the frustrating knowledge that the tapes will eventually become unusable.

There are some tracks that are almost certainly good. Examples are the two unissued tracks from the two John Patton sessions that produced "Blue John", and loads of Three Sounds tracks. Ah garontee that those would be good.

Further evidence comes from the fact that a large number of excellent previously unissued performances were included on some Japanese CDs in the period 2003-2015. That might end up being the end of the appearance of new tracks. Who would have thought that the "new" items from "Out To Lunch" would be so good? And why were they not included on the first CD reiussue?

The new guy at Blue Note, it seems to me, doesn't do much.

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12 hours ago, JSngry said:

If i was A Comedian With No Conscience, who just took the jokes as they came, no matter, I could do a line about Jackie McLean's "Tune Up" never getting released - BECUASE IT NEVER HAPPENED!!!!

...but that would get a laugh from the wrong crowd and then as soon as they laughed I'd go all rage-y on their asses and tell them to go fuck off and die in hell.

Come to think of it, though, there's a market for that type of thing, right? Especially a post-retirement guy playing to nihilistic ironists?

Maybe this Social Security won't be so important after all, eh?

Raw, unfiltered, sugar free.

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Jokes don't have to be faced in fact to work.

 

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Jokes don't have to be faced in fact to work.

 

Exactly.

Coda: I always thought the joke at the start of Fat Jazz was the cats "tuned up" and then proceeded to still basically play out of tune. And it's great. I'll go to the mattresses to defend Jackie.One of my greatest heroes. But in a 440 world, he still (often) played sharp as a m.f.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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those Steeplechases are my favorite Jackie; he seems to have reached a peak, influenced by the "new freedom" but not trying to play in any way other than his accustomed style. As for his intonation, it is beautifully expressive in its early sharpness; his later work has a kind of dissident indifference which completely turns me off (though it still has more than traces of the old brilliance). (and I defer to Larry Kart, who has very smartly, in this forum I believe, explained why McLean's later work leaves him cold). It probably has nothing to do with Jackie, btw, but anyone who plays older, non-Selmer saxophones understands how hard they are to play in tune, especially in the more-noticeable upper register. But that's another story.

Edited by AllenLowe

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By Jackie's later work, I mean only the VERY late work, after he returned to action from a fairly long span of time in Hartford. The sounds  and gestures, many of them, were familiar, but the spark, the underlying motivation, seemed to have dimmed quite a lot or even gone out.

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28 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

By Jackie's later work, I mean only the VERY late work, after he returned to action from a fairly long span of time in Hartford. The sounds  and gestures, many of them, were familiar, but the spark, the underlying motivation, seemed to have dimmed quite a lot or even gone out.

Well, we've all been down this road before and kicked this topic around quite a bit in other threads, so I won't try to talk anyone out of their honest and well-considered opinions, other than to say I disagree.

 

 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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4 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

This raises a point: just how bad are the many "rejected" or "unissued" Blue Note tracks? The decision not to issue in the CD reissue era was mainly that of Michael Cuscuna. We owe him a great debt for all of his hard work and persistence over many years, but, with all due respect to him, others should be allowed to make such decisions.

This discussion is rather theoretical in view of the fact that CDs are not issued much anymore and the question of economics comes into it. Nevertheless, there is the frustrating knowledge that the tapes will eventually become unusable.

There are some tracks that are almost certainly good. Examples are the two unissued tracks from the two John Patton sessions that produced "Blue John", and loads of Three Sounds tracks. Ah garontee that those would be good.

Further evidence comes from the fact that a large number of excellent previously unissued performances were included on some Japanese CDs in the period 2003-2015. That might end up being the end of the appearance of new tracks. Who would have thought that the "new" items from "Out To Lunch" would be so good? And why were they not included on the first CD reissue?

The new guy at Blue Note, it seems to me, doesn't do much.

I'd always hoped for a followup to The Lost Sessions, but we're way past the sell-by date for such a thing, at least in terms of a new CD release, as you note.  Maybe something for the Japanese market or the Tone Poets series, but even that seems unlikely.  

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8 minutes ago, ghost of miles said:

I'd always hoped for a followup to The Lost Sessions, but we're way past the sell-by date for such a thing, at least in terms of a new CD release, as you note.  Maybe something for the Japanese market or the Tone Poets series, but even that seems unlikely.  

Possible that the best bet for material like this going forward would be part of the fancy Blue Note subscription boxes, which I believe have sold well int heir niche. 

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2 hours ago, Mark Stryker said:

Exactly.

Coda: I always thought the joke at the start of Fat Jazz was the cats "tuned up" and then proceeded to still basically play out of tune. And it's great. I'll go to the mattresses to defend Jackie.One of my greatest heroes. But in a 440 world, he still (often) played sharp as a m.f.

Absolutely! It is why I LOVE this version!

36 minutes ago, Mark Stryker said:

Well, we've all been down this road before and kicked this topic around quite a bit in other threads, so I won't try to talk anyone out of their honest and well-considered opinions, other than to say I disagree.

 

 

I'm with you. Jackie excited me to the very end.

 

4 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

This raises a point: just how bad are the many "rejected" or "unissued" Blue Note tracks? The decision not to issue in the CD reissue era was mainly that of Michael Cuscuna. We owe him a great debt for all of his hard work and persistence over many years, but, with all due respect to him, others should be allowed to make such decisions.

This discussion is rather theoretical in view of the fact that CDs are not issued much anymore and the question of economics comes into it. Nevertheless, there is the frustrating knowledge that the tapes will eventually become unusable.

There are some tracks that are almost certainly good. Examples are the two unissued tracks from the two John Patton sessions that produced "Blue John", and loads of Three Sounds tracks. Ah garontee that those would be good.

Further evidence comes from the fact that a large number of excellent previously unissued performances were included on some Japanese CDs in the period 2003-2015. That might end up being the end of the appearance of new tracks. Who would have thought that the "new" items from "Out To Lunch" would be so good? And why were they not included on the first CD reiussue?

The new guy at Blue Note, it seems to me, doesn't do much.

1) Well, the release of Just Coolin' was based on someone else's decision.

2) Regardless of the quality of the performances, ALL the tapes should be digitized as a safety precaution. Period. Think Atlantic Fire and Universal Fire. Plus, decisions can be revisited (see 1 above).

3) Yes, a lot of the tracks issued for the first time in Japan in 2014 were top notch.

4) Who is the new guy at Blue Note you are referring to? Zev Feldman? I don't think he is in the same position at Blue Note as Michael was, Lundvall deferred to him for a lot of these decisions. I am not sure who makes the call at Blue Note now, Don Was or people below him?

At least one biography of a Blue Note artist was enhanced by the author's access to some out-take reels. This should be motivation enough to digitize it all, except record companies seem to scoff at the historical side of things. I sure hope that whoever will write an in-depth book on Jackie one day will have access to the 5 tracks listed above AND the 1968 rejected session. Jackie is on record as being dissatisfied with it because of the drummer, but a serious biographer should be able to hear it to be able to weight in on the controversy.

Bertrand.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mark Stryker said:

Well, we've all been down this road before and kicked this topic around quite a bit in other threads, so I won't try to talk anyone out of their honest and well-considered opinions, other than to say I disagree.

 

 

IIRCAllen Lowe had some inside-the-beltway views on Doll's (in his view, negative) role in shaping the final not-so-great phase of Jackie's great career.

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Jesus, people just want to live. Sometimes that "drama" shit is no longer wanted nor needed. We should be thankful that in this case it appears that one person was able to get there to at least some extent. Good life, good gig, somebody to run interference so he could have a life that was somewhat his own. Sorry if the records don't work for everybody. They work for me as them NOT being like the other ones. They seem totally honest about all of that, which really, what else would you expect from Jackie McLean?

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Yes, people just want to live, but if they are artists, just living -- in the light of all they have created and the assumptions that underlay its creation and the business, so to speak, that these creations have engaged in over time out there in the world that lies outside oneself -- may in some sense not be enough. 

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21 hours ago, bertrand said:

Climax and On The Nile from an earlier Jackknife session with Hutcherson instead of Willis.

I'd LOVE to hear those!   I also liked his later albums where he was the clear leader - the ones where he "collaborated" with Tyner and Onishi leave me a little cold, the whole equaling a good bit less than the sum of the parts.  

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1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

Yes, people just want to live, but if they are artists, just living -- in the light of all they have created and the assumptions that underlay its creation and the business, so to speak, that these creations have engaged in over time out there in the world that lies outside oneself -- may in some sense not be enough. 

Or after some point and after reaching some destination may be.

I mean, really, "artist", bullshit. There are creative people engaged in the marketplace, period. some more creative than others to be sure, but this "artist" crap....that's past it's sell-by date.

To the extent that "artist" gets you a viable position in the marketplace, hey, groovy. To the extent that it precludes you finding your own normalcy and inner peace and makes creativity that reflects that new place unviable in the eyes of the consumer, then fuck it. That's a devil's deal.

as it pertains to Jackie, yeah, after he "retired" and then came back, there was a, for lack of a better word, "edge" that went away and never came back. But what was left was solid as a motherfucking ROCK, impecablle logic, flow, and execution, and maybe there was a certainty (certainty, not complacency) there that was not there before. It was still unmistakably Jackie McLean, person and musician. His life changed, his playing changed, still totally honest, never anything but Jackie McLean speaking his truth.

Works for me.

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Saw him at the Iridium in the 90s, sounded on good form, nice and sharp! & with Rene McLean. As an aside, this has always intrigued me, did Jackie really father Rene at 15 years old?

anthony 

london

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I was lucky to see Jackie McLean perform several times in the years just before his death and they were some of the best live Jazz shows I've seen. In fact, the show he put on at the Village Vanguard in 1999, with Cedar Walton on piano, David Williams on bass and Billy Higgins on drums (on the "Nature Boy" tour), was probably the best live show I ever saw.

Edited by bresna

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17 minutes ago, bresna said:

...Cedar Walton on piano, David Williams on bass and Billy Higgins on drums (on the "Nature Boy" tour)...

god, that is such a beautiful record. Talk about singing your song....

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13 minutes ago, JSngry said:

god, that is such a beautiful record. Talk about singing your song....

Amen to that! :tup  One of the very best post-BN dates Jackie ever. “Beautiful” describes it perfectly. ❤️

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I'm not a fan, but listening to samples of this convinced me. It's on my wish list now.

R-5029549-1450571520-9189.jpeg.jpg

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4 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

IIRCAllen Lowe had some inside-the-beltway views on Doll's (in his view, negative) role in shaping the final not-so-great phase of Jackie's great career.

yeah, Dolly was so proprietary about Jackie's career and so over-demanding in terms of fees that he gigged relatively little in his last years. When I ran the New Haven fest and tried to book him she was impossible to deal with, and I offered some real money. I always noted that at his death there was relatively little acclaim, relative to his musical stature, because he just wasn't out and about that much. She thought she was being slick, but I remember a well-known jazz agent at the time telling me he had removed Jackie from his roster because Dolly was so impossible to deal with. Jackie was a very nice guy, but he deferred to her in everything, in that way that recovered junkies and alcoholics tend to give absolute loyalty to those who stuck with them when things were really at their lowest.

As for Jackie's playing in those last years, his sound became that buzzy, Yamaha-thing (that's the way those horns sound and I hate them). I called it dissident indifference above because his playing had, to my ears, a kind of angry (at the business) indifference to what he seemed to think was musical and sonic focus. It lost its connection to the earth, in a way which I find hard to explain. It's just all spread out, brilliant technically but cold and distant. But, clearly, other people hear it differently. To me he peaked in his '60s playing.

 

 

Edited by AllenLowe

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