Not to discredit the ability, output or creative drive of any musician who has contributed to the pantheon of documented jazz in the past fifty years, but there are definitely tiers of jazz players, at least with regards to who receives credit and recognition in the eyes of the lay jazz fan. Your first tier is your Miles Davis', John Coltrane's and Thelonious Monk's (the sort of guys who go by one name only, if you will). If you're new to jazz, only listen to jazz when you're in that sort of mood or just want one or two hip jazz records to make your record collection look cooler, these would be the guys to reach for.
Then you have cats like Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon and Joe Henderson. These guys are amazing artists who put out great recordsbut if a friend says, "Hey I want to get in to jazz... what record should I start with? You're going to say Tranenot Jackie McLean.
This is why a record like McLean's 4, 5, and 6
, newly reissued as part of the Rudy Van Gelder Remaster series, is such an enjoyable listen. Not everyone will take the time to dissect this all-but-lost treasure, but you will, hip and knowledgeable All About Jazz reader you!
Originally released in 1956 by Prestige Records, 4, 5 and 6
was McLean's third session as bandleader and teams the former Davis sideman with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Doug Watkin and drummer Arthur Taylor. Waldron, Watkins and Taylor are as good a rhythm section as any of their more heralded peers. For a strong section of "Sentimental Journey, McLean lays back and lets this trio do the work. The three are strong in support of the saxophonist, establishing loose groves for their bandleader to wander through.
The quartet expands to six for the Charlie Parker-penned "Confirmation, as Donald Byrd joins on trumpet and Hank Mobley adds his tenor saxophone. With a full, bright horn section the McLean band address a world of textures, tastes and tones that are delightful all around.
"Why Was I Born is, likewise, spectacular. Everything about "Abstraction is coolin every sense of the word. The tune is the sort that transports you till suddenly you find yourself sitting on a bar stool thinking slow, sipping whisky to avoid the rain outside because the walk home won't be wonderful. "Abstraction is the distraction of slow moving hips, vision clouded by marijuana, and low lights.
As reissues go, 4, 5 and 6
is a great addition to the catalog of classic hard bop. The perfect album for late night relaxation sessions of hanging out and getting high, McLean and company are on point and in control on this amazing disc.
Sentimental Journey; Why Was I Born?; Contour; Confirmation; When I Fall in Love; Abstraction.
Jackie McLean: alto saxophone; Donald Byrd: trumpet; Hank Mobley: tenor saophone; Mal Waldron: piano; Doug Watkins: bass; Arthur Taylor: drums.