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July 26, 2010

"New And Old Gospel" - Jackie McLean

Wow!.. Is the expression I would choose if asked to describe this album in one word. McLean is my favorite hard bop/post bop alto saxman, and to hear him along side Ornette Coleman is just insane.

Jackie McLean always sited Coleman as a huge influence, and even though he never fully crossed into Free Jazz, listeners could definitely her a unique tone, aesthetic, and building concepts that were unlike other Bop saxophonists. What makes this Blue Note session brilliant is that Ornette stays away from his own alto. Other critics have cited that this date failed due to this missed opportunity to pair the two on alto, but I disagree. Staying on trumpet allowed McLean to shine on the reeds, and he deserved it. And although, the record doesn't stray far from Post Bop, Coleman adds his own shapes and colors allowing this quintet to dab into uncharted terrain.

Lifeline is suite in it's own right. Time signature changes, and different themes coming and going, the cut offers four separate variations from the whole performance. It's probably the most ruminate of the three tracks here. Higgins swings as expected, and Lament Johnson's rhythm accompaniment is perfect for for the up and down moments of the record. The swinging really takes off on Old Gospel, which points towards, as you might guess, heavy Gospel themes. Scott Holt's bass playing jives and rolls with the rest of the group here too. And what happens when you add Ornette's free trumpet playing over a mid tempo, Hard Bop balled, you get Strange As It Seems, which showcases Lament Johnson's heavy chord soloing.
1967 - Blue Note.
Jackie McLean, alto saxophone; Ornette Coleman - trumpet; Lamont Johnson - piano; Scott Holt - bass; Billy Higgins - drums.


groove68 said...

Shirley Clarke's Ornette: Made in America


video on demand stream

Matthew D. said...

@groove 68,

thanks so much for the link! I saw that film a couple years back at a NW Film Center screening. It'll be a pleasure to revisit it.