Jackie McLean: A Saxophone Great

Saxophonist Jackie McLean died on Friday at the age of 75. He played with many of the greats, including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey and Charles Mingus. We offer an appreciation.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Saxophonist Jackie McLean has died. McLean was a musical bridge between post-World War II bebop and the progressive jazz of the 1960s.

(Soundbite of Saxophonist Jackie McLean)

HANSEN: Jackie McLean came of age in Charlie Parker's shadow. In 2001, he told WHYY's Fresh Air that he was too young to get into the clubs to see his idol so he would meet him at the subway.

Mr. JACKIE MCLEAN (Saxophonist): We'd go downtown at 8:30, see Charlie Parker walking to the clubs, stand outside the club until about quarter of ten and make a mad dash for the subway so we could get home.

HANSEN: McLean learned his lesson well. By the time he was 19, he was recording with Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. McLean also played with Art Blakey and Charles Mingus and made over 20 albums of his own for the Blue Note label in the 1960s. One of them was Let Freedom Ring, an acclaimed recording that pointed the way from hard Bach to free jazz.

(Soundbite of Saxophonist Jackie McLean)

HANSEN: Jackie McLean spent much of the last four decades of his life teaching and recording. He became music director of the Hart School of Music in 1972. Shortly afterwards, he and his wife created the Artists Collective, a non-profit organization that teaches the arts to inner city youth in Hartford.

(Soundbite of Saxophonist Jackie McLean)

HANSEN: In 2000, the University of Hartford renamed its music program the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. The following year he was recognized as a jazz master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Jackie McLean died Friday at his home in Hartford after a long illness. He was 75 years old.

(Soundbite of Saxophonist Jackie McLean)

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