Classic Jackie McLean
JM: While I was developing my program at the Hartt School, Dolly and I, along with several other fine artists around Hartford, began to develop a program in the inner city called the Artists Collective. It teaches young people and families about music, dance, drama and the visual arts. We started out doing things in store fronts and then we started operating out of the an old public school building in 1975. Then we started thinking about the possibility of putting a building up ourselves because we were outgrowing the old school building. Dolly raised the money, and I'm happy to say that the building is up and we are in the finishing stages now. We have a beautiful theater in the building, wonderful classrooms, and practice rooms. It's just a gorgeous dream come true.
GW: How does someone get their child involved in the Artists Collective?
JM: Many fine musicians have come through that program. We take young people if they just come in with their parents and sign-up for lessons. If they sign up for [music] lessons, they get free theory lessons. When they can play well enough, they can come into our youth band. Dolly has [created] a very beautiful scholarship program. We are in a community where people don't have a lot of money, so we can't charge exorbitant fees for lessons. If a mother has more than one child and she enrolls one in the Collective, the other children get in free. It's an incredible, wonderful program in Hartford, and I can't take the credit for making it happen. I definitely was the one that thought about the idea of building this Artists Collective, but Dolly is the one that has really raised the money, and has run the day-to-day operation for all these years.
GW:What's next for Jackie McLean?
JM:I have some work with Slide Hampton and Jon Faddis. My band is going to Europe in July. After, I'm going to take a little time off and try to fix-up my house in Hartford, and take it easy for a little bit before school starts again in September. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more playing in the next two years.