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Jackie McLean: Demon's Dance (2006)

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Jackie McLean: Demon's Dance How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Sometimes a work of art is best known because it ends a period in its creator's career. If, in addition to its historic importance, it has immense artistic value, then it becomes a masterpiece. Such is the case of Demon's Dance, the last recording from Jackie McLean's Blue Note period, during which he discovered his unique voice both as a composer and as a performer over the span of 21 albums.

The essence of all those records is distilled and concentrated in Demon's Dance. Here are the hard bop rhythms, the modal improvisations, the angular melodies and always an edgy avant-garde spirit. The fresh ways these elements fuse make this record unique, exciting and a rewarding listening experience, and not just a rehashing of old ideas. It summarizes a creative era of a brilliant artist and also hints at the future to come.

The horns complement and enhance each other while the rhythm section does much more than expected, adding layers of distinct and interesting harmonies to the tunes. There are no so-so tunes here, only the masterworks of a group of extremely talented musicians led by a man at the peak of his career. Two of the compositions outdo the others, though, in their creativity: the title tune and the last track, entitled "Message from Trane."

This reissue does not have any alternate takes of previously unissued material, but it makes up for it by the pristine quality of the remastering and clarity of sound. This is not only a CD that rewards repeated listens, but also a masterpiece that summarizes what came before and hints at what is yet to come.

Track Listing: Demon's Dance; Toyland; Boo Ann's Grand; Sweet Love Of Mine; Floogeh; Message From Trane.

Personnel: Jackie McLean: alto saxophone; Woody Shaw: trumpet; LaMont Johnson: piano; Scott Holt: bass instrument; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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