(Jackie McLean, Yamaha alto sax, Hank Jones, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Tony Williams, drums)
Long sought by Jackie Mac fans, the 1978 East Wind Japanese issued LP, New Wine in Old Bottles, has finally been reissued on CD. A large bonus is that Test of Time Records out of New York City is re-issuing much of the East Wind catalog thru 441 Records using the Test of Time trademark. They are using the DSD process, which they boast to be 64 times the sampling frequency of a standard Compact Disc. [Yes, but it’s still finally a 44.1K/16-bit standard CD; and the originals of many of the East Winds were direct discs – which if well-done nothing today can surpass…Ed.]
Originally recorded at Sound Ideas Studios in New York in April 1978, the session paired McLean with the Great Jazz Trio of Hank Jones, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. As most any jazz fan knows you don’t get a better rhythm section than these masters of their craft.
McLean chose two of his famous compositions, Appointment in Ghana and Little Melonae for this session and decided to add the word “again” for each track as Jackie as always prided himself on adding twists and changes to his classic tunes. In addition, standards such as It Never Ended My Mind, ‘Round About Midnight, and Charlie Parker’s Confirmation were added to the mix. The only lesser known track on the session is Joe Raposo’s Bein’ Green.
Now for the important issue-how does the CD sound? Well, I can report that the re-mixing engineer, Yoshiro Suzuki, has succeeded in bringing McLean to the digital age with fine results. Ron Carter’s bass is upfront in the mix and Tony Williams’ drums are as assertive as you’d find in an in-person presentation. Hank Jones, always the consummate accompanist, is all that and more here. The opening track immediately alerts you to the power and drive that was still in full force for Jackie in the late 70s. He’s on a tear on “Ghana” and tender and soulful on the Rodgers and Hart standard, It Never Entered My Mind. Carter’s bass solo is a study in bass mastery and Jones’ sparkling piano is a revelation.
Monk’s ‘Round About Midnight is given a blues treatment and at 9:05 Jackie really has room to stretch out his statements. The return of Little Melonae has McLean back to his bebop roots as opposed to the hard bop treatment it is usually given. Bein’ Green is a beautiful ballad and Jackie caresses each chorus. When he wanted to turn on the emotion, McLean could be as soulful as any of the alto masters.
The session closes with Confirmation and both Jackie and Hank Jones do Bird proud. It’s a fitting conclusion to a McLean session brought back to life in glorious sound. It’s a “must have” for McLean fans who will find Jackie at his peak with the added bonus of THE dream rhythm section of Jones, Carter, and Williams.
Tracklist: Appointment in Ghana Again, It Never Entered My Mind, ‘Round About Midnight, Little Melonae Again, Bein’ Green, Confirmation
– Jeff Krow