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Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Guest Post: Allan McLean

Here is the first in a series (I hope) of Montreal musicians weighing in. I've known Al for about 15 years since our days at McGill. He's a giant human being as well as saxophonist. I'll never forget the monster solo he took next to Donny McCaslin at the Ottawa Jazz festival turning all the heads in the Maria Schneider orchestra. He's definitely someone who needs to be heard more from outside our tiny jazz community in Montreal. Here's his reaction to the Jason Marsalis video (Please see previous post)

There is a large number of potential jazz listeners in the world.  However, there is a small number of current jazz listeners in the world, and that number is shrinking.  It's not the audience's fault.  An all-too-large percentage of the groups I hear, many of which are very well promoted, are staffed with assorted musicians in an introverted state of self-denile, believing that it's possible to be 'fast-tracked' to 'world-class' musicianship.  Jazz is very hard and there are no shortcuts.  Every musician needs to start at the beginning, and by the way there is no end.  Coltrane didn't build a huge skyscraper by fabricating the penthouse first.  The better your control over the basic materials- counterpoint(bebop), and rhythm, the more you can help the AUDIENCE understand what you want to express with your music.   You would be suprised how many laymen recognize bullshit when they hear it.
You can see Al live and in person in his various musical groups:

Al McLean Quartet feat:

Brian Hurley-Bass
Michel Berthiaume- Drums
Andre White- Piano

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 9:30pm
Jazz in the Point
Taverne Urbaine Le Diable à Quatre
1871 rue Centre
Montreal, QC


The Chateauguay Tenors!

Cameron Wallis and Al McLean-  All saxophones
Geoff Lapp- Piano
Remi-Jean Leblanc- Bass
Rich Irwin- Drums

May 28th and 29th
Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grille
1254 Rue Mackay
Montreal, QC H3G 2H4
(514) 931-6808


  1. I'd like to weigh in....

    Vanessa and Al's comments apply to beyond the aesthetic of "jazz". In my view, the practice of non-classical music in general is beset by tired business models that are based on assumptions that have to fail in order to be proven. When the cat comes out of the bag, it's often tired and weary, but unrelenting!

    There are many musicians who, through their unrelenting desire to continue to play and find common ground, have been able to create small hubs of "real" musical activity. Whether they are financially sustainable can be viewed in relative terms. Ultimately, what makes music soulful and "connected" is when a person applies him or herself over a long period of time. It also helps the music when circumstances come together to allow that vital nurturing to happen.

    Jazz has not been institutionalized. People who play jazz have opted to pursue a financing option that uses the university umbrella. There are many many students who graduate with a specific range of musical skills which they call "jazz". The risk happens when they compete for prestige with no financial ground wire. Similarly, there are an infinte amount of taped-up posters from indie rock bands or post-hell atom-hip hop, [or whatever]... I can't tell what kind of music they play. And I won't go. It's a really weird phenomenon, but I think it's connected.

    It is more a question of general musical literacy.