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April 3, 2006

Alto Saxophonist Jackie McLean Dies

Written by
cindy mcleod

jazz news

Hard-bop pioneer Jackie McLean Leaves a Great Legacy

Jackie McLean, the alto saxophonist who played with fellow legendary musicians including Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, died Friday, March 31, 2006. He died at his Hartford home after a long illness, at the age of 73.

McLean was born in Harlem, where neighbours Thelonius Monk and Bud Powell (who directed a Harlem band that included McLean and his friend Sonny Rollins) mentored the youth. It was Powell who introduced him to bebop pioneer Charlie Parker, a major influence upon the young musician.

His first recording was done at the tender age of 19, where he was featured along with Rollins on Miles Davis’ “Dig” album, spawning the new hard-bop style. During the 50’s, McLean worked with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, further developing the sound. As a leader he first recorded in 1955, and went on to create dozens of recordings for Blue Note and Dynasty Records, imprinting the hard-bop and free-jazz styles.

He was the founder and artistic director of the jazz program at the university’s Hartt School of Music; the program was later named the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. He also founded the Artists Collective in Hartford with his wife, actress Dollie McLean. . One of jazz music’s foremost educators, he taught jazz, African-American music, and African-American history and culture.

In 2001 McLean received an American Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jackie McLean’s survivors include his wife, Dollie, and son, Rene.

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