Perhaps the most intriguing of Chicago jazz guitarists (not a bad group, as it includes Fareed Haque, Jeff Parker, Bobby Broom, etc.). McLean is a talented, crisp improviser unparalleled in his intensity, to the extent that he occasionally appears constipated.
"No jazz musician in Chicago can more quickly electrify a tune or galvanize an audience;" says the Chicago Reader's Neil Tesser. "For that matter, only a few jazz guitarists throughout the country can match the focused intensity of his playing. He gets a a sweeping, gorgeous, day-glo tone from his guitar that grabs the ear even in a crowd; once he has your attention, he holds on to it with quick, hard stories perched between street-talk and Olympian pronouncement."
The Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich says "... even when McLean is at his most arcane, venturing into remote keys and tracing bizarre chords, the sheer lyric beauty and emotional intensity of his lines enable any listener to grab hold of this music."
He has frequently appeared as a sideman, including with Kurt Elling, Randy Brecker, Jane Ira Bloom, Arthur Blythe, and Jerry Granelli, in addition to a long-time partnership with John Moulder, though nowadays he often leads his own band -- Neil Tesser calls his Quintet of the best bands in town --, including local vets like Jim Gailloretto, Larry Kohut, Eric Montzka and Karl Montzka.
His early recordings were with Patricia Barber and Jeff Stitely, and with Stitely's Quartet, and he's appeared on recordings by Terry Callier, Grazyna Auguscik, Patricia Barber, and others. He now has his own solo release, Easy Go.
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