Top 10 Favorite Jackie McLean Tracks

If I had never met the great saxophonist, composer, bandleader, educator, and activist Jackie McLean, I suspect he would still be one of the more important musicians in my consciousness. I do not, however, have that abstraction. Although I didn’t spend a lot of time with Mr. McLean, every interaction left a mark, as did my time as a student at the Artists’ Collective (the Hartford, CT community organization he co-founded over 50 years ago) and more generally within his musical/spiritual/intellectual orbit (including with my many friends and colleagues involved with the jazz program, now the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, at the Hartt School). Even being young and foolish, I appreciated the uniqueness of proximity to such a master and in the ensuing 30 years have only increased my appreciation for that and for the distinctiveness of his musical voice and legacy. Few instrumentalists have had sounds as distinct as his on the alto saxophone, and the seamless way he bounced between blues, bebop, and the most modern jazz (and at times melded it all together) was truly visionary.

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