Jackie McLean 4, 5 and 6 – Prestige RVG Remaster

by | Feb 15, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jackie McLean – 4, 5 and 6 – Prestige RVG Remaster –  PRCD-30155-2 (1956),
45:21 ****:

(Jackie McLean, alto sax, Donald Byrd, trumpet (tracks #3,4, & 6
only), Hank Mobley, tenor sax on track #4, Mal Waldron, piano, Doug Watkins,
bass, Art Taylor, drums)

Losing Jackie McLean this past year was a huge blow to the jazz community.
As one of the last remaining master reedmen, vibrant to near the end of his
life, Jackie’s death showed us how close we are to the passing of the end of
the lives of our jazz heroes- of the golden age of jazz, the late
40’s to the mid 60’s era. With the exception of Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath,
Benny Golson, James Moody, Lou Donaldson and Phil Woods, the still active
old timers are just about gone. Jackie was one of the last true beboppers,
early on tied to the legacy of Charlie Parker, but later true to his own
jazz spirit. Jackie possessed a rare quality of both tartness/edginess and
the ability to swing a soulful ballad. His tone was unique and his ability
to bridge the bop/hard bop/ and avant vein a true rarity.

Prestige’s RVG remaster of his second Prestige album, issued in 1956 is a
true joy, as it includes later Blue Note band mates, Hank Mobley and Donald
Byrd, as each was just beginning to make a name for themselves. The CD opens
with Jackie blowing jauntily on the classic, Sentimental Journey. You will
notice immediately the warm remastered RVG sound in Art Taylor’s upfront
accompaniment with his cymbal work having an upfront punch missing from
prior issues. Watkin’s bass lines have an “in the room” quality. Why Was I
Born? brings to mind Sonny Rollins in its assertiveness on Jackie’s part.
Contour brings Byrd into the mix and the mid 50s hard bop period’s
beginnings are felt. Byrd seems to hold back a bit and you notice his
hesitancy somewhat. Charlie Parker’s Confirmation follows and here you find
the full sextet in its only appearance. As Parker’s acolyte, McLean is in
full control here with the others mostly along for the ride.

The closing numbers are When I Fall in Love and Abstraction, and the former
is done at a fast ballad, and the latter, a Waldron composition, is a
background feature for Byrd with McLean upfront with his most soulful
blowing of the session. Waldron has a brief solo in which he makes the most
of his time in the spotlight before McLean again takes center stage.

Add this latest RVG Prestige Remaster to the recommended list of upgrades to
your collection. It’s a special treat to have early Jackie McLean material
back in fine remastered sound.

TrackList: Sentimental Journey, Why Was I Born?, Contour, Confirmation, When
I Fall in Love, Abstraction

– Jeff Krow

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