Dance with the demon in the pale moonlight....
Johnny Thursday | NYC Metro Area | 09/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I could go on and on about McLean's blue notes, as I have assembled a pretty complete collection of his dates and clutch sideman issues. He always plays with an edge, a tone that not all people dig (especially purists), and a searching concept that never leaves behind what Bud Powell taught him. He led many great bands of many great future stars, and this is another one. The first two tracks are the cream of this session. McLean's lead-off title composition on the record is a classic, and the second track a haunting low-key vehicle for his sound (Shaw doesn't solo). These tracks are arresting, and the rest is good but similar in execution to lots of other things he was doing around this time. They're not bad, they just don't grab you like the first two, and will likely deepen after repeated listens. If you like this stuff, I would check out the records he made with Charles Tolliver (It's Time, Action, Jacknife) which are my personal favorites."
A gem from Blue Note's declining years
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 10/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1967 album was Jackie McLean's last for Blue Note for several decades (he's recently recorded again for the label); it dates from the years of Blue Note's decline as fusion & rock pushed jazz to the margins. This is demonstrated most obviously by the disc's cover, perhaps the single ugliest cover ever to appear on a Blue Note album, a label normally noted for its excellent design--it features a crudely-drawn, nine-breasted demon with heads taken from Indian, Chinese & African sources. Despite this dreadful attempt at catching the eyes of 1960s rock fans (& I suppose at least it proved prescient of two of the greatest covers of the era, those to _Bitches Brew_ & _Axis: Bold as Love_), the music inside is solid Jackie McLean.OK, so what about the music..? Well: it's a good band: Woody Shaw on trumpet & Jack de Johnette on drums, plus McLean's regular pianist & bassist of the time, LaMont Johnson & Scott Holt (who also played on McLean's earlier disc _New and Old Gospel_)--the last two are not especially remarkable, but it's the fiery young drummer & tough young trumpeter who boot this disc along, as well as the in-form leader. The material is excellent, including several fine McLean & Shaw compositions--indeed this is one of McLean's best sets of compositions on disc. Mostly the material is uptempo, including the memorable title-track, which chugs along in 6 on top of de Johnette's billowing drums. The album ends with "Message from Trane", by Cal Massey (a composer-trumpeter friend of Coltrane's who only ever recorded one album, for Candid, & died a few years after Coltrane). The track is a reminder that this album was only recorded a month after Coltrane's death; unexpectedly, it's an upbeat number, whose optimistic rising theme harks back to the Coltrane of circa 1959 (tunes like "Moment's Notice", "Giant Steps", &c). It's a fitting tribute to the great man.A good disc. Ignore the artwork & give it a try."
Sweeping and expansive
Swing King | Cincinnati, OH USA | 04/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Demon's Dance" is a mesmerizing Jackie McLean and crew release, done for Blue Note in 1967. Accompanying Mclean are some skilled and practiced sidemen, including Woody Shaw (t), Lamont Johnson (p), Scott Holt (b) and Jack DeJohnette (d). Lamont Johnson and Scott Holt had worked frequently with Mclean in the past, providing wonderful rhythmic accompaniment. Mclean, a veteran of the Horace Silver Quintet and a collaborator with the late Eric Dolphy, shines through on alto sax on the title track especially.
"Toyland" is a stark and emotive piece, showcasing Jackie wooing listeners with a forlorn horn and featuring a superb solo by Lamont Johnson on piano. The slick fast beat of "Boo Ann's Grand", combined with the rich overtones of "Sweet Love of Mine" and the high gear gripping performance of McLean on "Floogeh" make the overall result of this session amazing. The final track on this date was "Message to Trane", clearly done in reference and tribute to the late John Coltrane. This Rudy Van Gelder Edition 24-bit remaster of McLean's 1967 album provides remarkable sound quality for listeners. Buy "Demon's Dance" today, you'll be glad that you did.