ILM's 2005 collaborative mix project hoonja-doonja!

February 04, 2005

Jackie McLean, "Soul"

Jackie McLean doesn't so much dismiss the blues as vivisect it, his mid-'60s recordings radiating out from the firm bop of his roots. By 1967 when 'Bout Soul was issued, Jackie had tried the Ornette stuff: the dismissal of a harmonic or melodic epicenter, the squawks and blares, always with a careful toe in the trad. Much of his risk-taking is thanks to ILM-fave Grachan Moncur III, whose compositions heavily dot the '60s McLean discog and allow the cat to open up, especially harmonically. Jackie's own compositions of the decade reflect his pal's dexterity and moxie.

"Soul" juts out on 'Bout Soul as a microcosm of the raison d'etre of jazz, i.e. soul. Barbara Simmons, poet, clearly has some experience with the subject matter, brandishing a mellifluous flow that anticipates Foxy Brown (not the rapper) and recalls Satchmo's scat. A Google search on Ms. Simmons yields little (I wonder if that’s her on the cover?) except for Amiri Baraka's incendiary lament on the disappearance of so many vital Black artists. (Amiri Baraka is the Poet Laureate of my home state, New Jersey. GMIII is a Jersey native as well, naturally.) Grachan Moncur III's nimble writing accounts for Prez and Rollins and Ornette without sounding schizo. A sultry theme swings along and the band burbles through and around the solos, an appropriate backdrop for Simmons’s enjambment and other literary maneuvers. Yeeaaaaahhhh, man. Soul is the holy rollers and all the unholy rollers, groovin’ in their own kinda way.

(In this case, the song was pulled from the Grachan Moncur III collection on Mosaic Records.)

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