Classic Day – How The Other Half Lives


Originally released in 1974 after a live recording in Copenhagen, Jackie McLean was able to craft a passion project that in time, eventually transitioned a free-form stylistic love for jazz. It is not quite raw to the point of animosity, but many of the trails that McLean takes on Ghetto Lullaby are deeper pockets of power where reservoirs of instrumental synchronization can sit.

As if free-form was the right word for it, A Ghetto Lullaby uses McLean on the alto saxophone, Kenny Drew on the piano, Alex Riel on percussion, and an outstanding performance from Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on the bass. Through the four-piece kit of control, there is an immediate attraction to the loosely directed playing that mashes together. With tracks that average around the eight-minute mark, A Ghetto Lullaby is more a test of endurance rather than short sprints.

Drawing directly from the opening track “Jack’s Tune” which starts in a rapid display of instruments crashing together and falling in and out of tempo changes consistently. It is not quite advanced on a performance level, but the listener can point this persistent movement to the waves of the ocean that are always in motion. Even though McLean has his name on the album, every artist featured on the record can hold their own and have moments where the spotlight is entirely enthralled with them.

Sections on “Jack’s Tune” have the percussion completely demolishing the cymbals where Riel puts more emphasis on blasting rather than calming. But the sequence fits almost as if these puzzle pieces were cut with diamond-etched lasers that weld together an incredibly tight fixture for consumption. The segues between tracks and the less rambunctious moments create a lull in A Ghetto Lullaby. With “Where Is Love?,” McLean takes a duet with Drew and the two together are more fine-dining than jazz house and cigarettes.

Frankly, when comparing the works of McLean to his previous pieces, then circling back to A Ghetto Lullaby as a completely live record, the tenacity and sheer dialect that he speaks through with his instrument is gorgeous. At times, he can be more of a pulverizing motion that sweeps through tracks in a blitzing manner, but where the group succeeds is in the settings where the calming waves wash the shore and return to dust.

Listen To A Ghetto Lullaby Here!!! – Spotify/Amazon/iTunes

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