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Jackie McLean: 'Let Freedom Ring'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: That is the sound of exploration — the sound of a mature musician with a well-defined sense of self, moving beyond his familiar surroundings to create something new for himself, and for us as well. I'm Murray Horwitz, and Let Freedom Ring by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean is today's entry in the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library.


HORWITZ: What you'll hear all through this record is a real sense of discovery. Jackie McLean is always trying to compose a whole piece, to develop something — an idea, a phrase, a little rhythm. He almost always succeeds, and he's always tremendously musical. The other musicians are on the same quest — the bassist Herbie Lewis, the great drummer Billy Higgins, and the wonderful, underrated pianist Walter Davis.

There was a lot happening in jazz in 1962, and Jackie Mac was right in the thick of it. He's working with the then-new ideas of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, having graduated from the "University of Hard Bop," Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. And on this CD, he uses all of it to forge his own sound.


HORWITZ: I want to call your attention to the liner notes for this CD. They're the original notes from the long-playing album, and they're written by Jackie McLean, himself. They're almost a call to arms, an affirmation that an established bebopper could find a place among what he called "the new breed." As he, himself, says, "The search is on, let freedom ring!"


HORWITZ: The CD is Let Freedom Ring and it is on the Blue Note label. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Murray Horwitz
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