Jackie Mclean

Jackie McLean (Jazz Bakery, Culver City; 162 seats; $ 25 top) Presented inhouse. Band: McLean, Cedar Walton, David Williams, Albert (Tootie) Heath. Reviewed Oct. 8, 1996. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, now part of jazz's rapidly vanishing breed of living role models, settled in for an unusually long six-day stand at the Jazz Bakery Tuesday. And his first set indeed turned out to be a process of settling in; the fire may come later. Well after his prime period in the 1960s, McLean went into a self-imposed eclipse, only to re-emerge at the end of the '80s with a colossal comeback album, "Dynasty" (Triloka), and new respect. He was always one of the more adventurous post-boppers, armed with his own distinct fat sound and a willingness to roam into avant-garde country for ideas. Without saying a single word to the audience, let alone announcing any song titles, McLean, 64, dealt mostly in safe postbop structures on this night, occasionally reaching outside for some brief turbulent flurries that always fit. Right from the opening strains of "Lover," his tone, if anything, was even more piercing and pungent than it was a few years ago. This is fine when the tempos and glands were racing, but when ballad time came, McLean's hard-nosed sound could have used some warmth. With the protean pianist Cedar Walton leading a trio of David Williams on bass and Tootie Heath on drums, McLean couldn't ask for more sympathetic support over a long stay on paper at least. It took Walton most of the set to warm up as his piano work sounded waterlogged and diffident at first, picking up crispness in a midset ballad. He wasn't fully engaged until the final piece, where he could quote impishly and react to Williams' jaunty bass and Heath's subtle string of bombs. Whatever the polite shortcomings of the opening set, it's always clear these are veteran masters who, given the right ignition temperature, could explode. Richard S. Ginell

Jackie McLean (Jazz Bakery, Culver City; 162 seats; $ 25 top) Presented inhouse. Band: McLean, Cedar Walton, David Williams, Albert (Tootie) Heath. Reviewed Oct. 8, 1996. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, now part of jazz’s rapidly vanishing breed of living role models, settled in for an unusually long six-day stand at the Jazz Bakery Tuesday. And his first set indeed turned out to be a process of settling in; the fire may come later. Well after his prime period in the 1960s, McLean went into a self-imposed eclipse, only to re-emerge at the end of the ’80s with a colossal comeback album, “Dynasty” (Triloka), and new respect. He was always one of the more adventurous post-boppers, armed with his own distinct fat sound and a willingness to roam into avant-garde country for ideas. Without saying a single word to the audience, let alone announcing any song titles, McLean, 64, dealt mostly in safe postbop structures on this night, occasionally reaching outside for some brief turbulent flurries that always fit. Right from the opening strains of “Lover,” his tone, if anything, was even more piercing and pungent than it was a few years ago. This is fine when the tempos and glands were racing, but when ballad time came, McLean’s hard-nosed sound could have used some warmth. With the protean pianist Cedar Walton leading a trio of David Williams on bass and Tootie Heath on drums, McLean couldn’t ask for more sympathetic support over a long stay on paper at least. It took Walton most of the set to warm up as his piano work sounded waterlogged and diffident at first, picking up crispness in a midset ballad. He wasn’t fully engaged until the final piece, where he could quote impishly and react to Williams’ jaunty bass and Heath’s subtle string of bombs. Whatever the polite shortcomings of the opening set, it’s always clear these are veteran masters who, given the right ignition temperature, could explode. Richard S. Ginell

Jackie Mclean

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