JACKIE McLEAN
            A Long Drink of The Blues

                 Recording Date:
                        February 15, 1957 tk 2-4
                        August 30, 1957     tk 1

                      Webster Young   TP
                      Curtis Fuller        TB
                      Jackie McLean    AS
                      Gil Coggins         P
                      Paul Chambers    B
                      Louis Hayes         D

                      Mal Waldron        P tk 1
                      Arthur Phipps      B tk 1
                      Art Taylor           D tk 1

Review by  Samuel Chell
This CD reissue begins with what is titled "Take 1" of "A Long Drink of the Blues." After a false start, the musicians argue for two minutes about the tempo; why was this ever released? "Take 2" is a much more successful 20-minute jam featuring Jackie McLean (doubling on alto and tenor), trombonist Curtis Fuller, trumpeter Webster Young, pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Louis Hayes. The second half of this reissue is from a quartet session that showcases McLean on three standard ballads with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Arthur Phipps, and drummer Art Taylor. Although not quite as intense as McLean's later Blue Note dates, the ballad renditions show just how mature and original a soloist he was even at this early stage. Despite "Take 1," this CD is worth getting.
The first side of this obscure but worthwhile session is a loosely-organized, extended jam session on a blues in the key of F, much like Jimmy Smith's celebrated "Sermon." The cast combines obscure players (Gil Coggins, Webster Young) with established stars (Curtis Fuller, who offers some of his best choruses on record; Paul Chambers, the heart of the rhythm section; the long-lived, much-traveled Louis Hayes). But the main message is offered by Jackie, first a rare solo on tenor saxophone, then a quick costume change and he's back with his alto on the same tune. On both instruments he reveals, along with his command of the language of modern jazz and deep-rooted blues indebtedness, that always controversial but inescapable personal "sound"--raw, acidic, pungently sour, and slightly sharp. If he ever listened to and learned much from a Johnny Hodges or Paul Desmond, it's certainly not apparent in his playing from this period. He's like the talented, irrepressible kid with all of the tattoos and body piercings--hard for some of us instantly to embrace yet always in your face and winning your respect in spite of yourself.

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