[JPL] Stanley Crouch on Jackie McLean

Doug Crane dcrane at comcast.net
Thu Apr 6 02:04:35 EDT 2006

Larry Appelbaum <jumpmonk at hotmail.com> wrote:

As far as intonation goes, Jackie sometimes played sharp. It's part of what
makes his sound so distinctive and recognizable.

Larry Appelbaum

Flat yes, sharp no.

And it's because Jackie played under the pitch that one tends to 
notice it more.  Had he played on the top side of the pitch as much 
as he favored the bottom side, chances are we wouldn't be having this 
discussion because most people, musicians and laypeople alike, would 
simply not have noticed it.

In the case of today's pop music diva's, they so rarely stay on a 
pitch for more than a nanosecond that it's impossible to gauge where 
they are in relation to the pitch.  They'll circle all around it but 
never come in for a landing.  And for this we should be thankful.

I've often wondered whether Jackie's concept of pitch was what he 
heard in his head or if it was intentional.  His intonation certainly 
was one of the things that made him immediately recognizable.  I 
guess I always thought of it more as an affectation rather than an affliction.

While we've named some of Jackie's best recordings under his own 
name, one of my favorites featuring him as a sideman is a Lee Morgan 
date for Blue Note called Lee-Way.  I especially like "These Are 
Soulful Days".  Great playing by the entire cast.

As I write this, I'm recalling a gig I was at about 15 years or so 
ago featuring one of the supposed "young new stars" of the alto 
sax.  For the sake of this discussion he shall rename nameless.  The 
trio backing him was simply sensational.  One of the sidemen has gone 
onto bigger and better things.  And deservedly so.  But of course it 
was the alto player's gig so he had to give us our money's worth.  He 
didn't know that we'd probably have offered him more money NOT to 
play!  By the end of the 2nd set, he was somewhere between a quarter 
or half step sharp.  Now that, my friends, is out of tune.

Doug Crane
dcrane at comcast.net
Volunteer Jazz DJ
KUVO Denver 89.3 FM
Wednesdays 7-9 PM

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