Nature Boy (Blue Note)

JACKIE McLEAN - Nature Boy (Blue Note)Alto sax legend Jackie McLean is one of the few remaining titans from 'the golden age of bop.' Throughout his career, McLean has played with some of the biggest names in jazz. Growing up with neighbors like Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins sure didn't either. His recording career began in 1951 with Miles Davis, and later worked with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey. Musical curiosity eventually led him to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman, and McLean tapped into this influence to create his own distinct sound.

Keeping that in mind, his latest effort is a bit of a departure. Nature Boy is a beautiful collection of eight pop standards; and his backing musicians--Cedar Walton on piano, David Williams on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums--all turn in outstanding performances. McLean's in fine form throughout. While the arrangements are more laid back than usual for McLean, they're far from boring. From the classic ballad, "You Don't Know What Love Is" to the extended take on "A Nightingale in Berkeley Square," this gently swinging disc is a joy from start to finish.

© 2000 Steve Marshall

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