by Friedrich Kunzmann
This inventive Chicago Quartet finds Kurt Elling's long time backing team comprised of guitarist John McLean and bassist Clark Sommers pushing into original sonic adventures with fresh modern twists. The band's debut outing for Origin Records also features drummer Xavier Breaker and vibes veteran Joe Locke whose tone and style accompanies and interacts perfectly with John McLean's subtle but poignant Guitar lines.Locke's modernistic Blondie Roundabout" launches this long player to some speed with a very approachable guitar driven ...read more
by Dan Bilawsky
It's amazing what can happen when you take a tight-knit, deep-dish duo reflective of Chicago's jazz riches, add one of the world's most dexterous and expressive vibraphonists, and sweeten the deal with a grooving up-and-comer. Charts are mapped over uncharted territories, musical assuredness carries the day in uncertain realms, and surprises await around every well-constructed corner. This is not-so-simply a beautiful case of known parts moving toward parts unknown. Guitarist John McLean and bassist Clark Sommers have ...read more
by John Barron
Guitarist/composer John McLean is an emerging musical voice for the 21st century. Steeped in tradition and propelled by contemporary influences, the Chicago-based musician sculpts an uncanny representation of an ever-widening American musical landscape. Better Angels, McLean's second release as a leader, is a stunning collection of original compositions and standards, featuring McLean's blistering guitar and his unconventional ensemble comprised of saxophonist Jim Gailloreto, vocalist Grazyna Auguscik, violinist Zach Brock, organist Karl Montzka, bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Eric Montzka.
There ...read more
by Jim Santella
Mostly his originals, the session smokes with an authenticity that centers on exciting guitar leadership. By adding organ and tenor saxophone, McLean provides a sound that captures the essence of jazz and rock. Pieces by Woody Shaw, Bill Evans/Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius add a mainstream charm. Hammond organ and guitar go back a long way. They blend to provide a distinctive sound that is at once contemporary and classic. This is timeless music.
Lyrical and expressive, McLean makes full ...read more