Format: LP, Vinyl
Jackie McLean’s ‘Bluesnik’ is considered one of the alto saxophonist’s most accessible albums, though ‘Capuchin Swing’ and ‘Swing Swang Swingin’ would not be far behind. It was recorded on 8th January 1961 and released in February 1962. The band features a rhythm section of Pete La Roca (drums), Doug Watkins (bass), the under-recorded Kenny Drew (piano). A young irrepressible Freddie Hubbard joins McLean in the horn section. ‘Bluesnik’ features six original compositions, two from McLean, three from Drew and one from Hubbard. ‘Bluesnik’, the opening track, is a scorching Hard Bop masterpiece. McLean’s alto soars in that angular fashion for which his playing was renowned, whilst Freddie Hubbard delivers a lung busting statement that is powerful and pugnacious. The aptly titled ‘Goin Way Blues’ is drenched in that feeling from its tempo to the wailings of the alto saxophonist and down home playing of Kenny Drew. The track bleeds the Blues. ‘Drew’s Blues’, the first contribution from the pianist, is another Blues infused piece. Marginally faster than ‘Goin Way Blues’ it has a haunting quality courtesy of the exquisite horn line. Drew also composed ‘Cool Green’, which saunters lazily. Though a Bop tune there is a mellow feel that is conveyed by all three soloists. Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Blues Function’ is another slowish blues, enriched by the full tone generated by the trumpeter. This deliberate, plodding Blues is a perfect vehicle for Kenny Drew’s piano. The catchy ‘Torchin’, the third and final Drew number, sustains the Blues feel, a concept that permeates ‘Bluesnik’ throughout and defines the album. The rhythm section is solid with Kenny Drew starring, whilst McLean re-confirms his status as a major player. The star is the emerging talent of one Jazz’s greatest trumpet players: Freddie Hubbard bosses this session.
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