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.
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.