Exhilarating and highly expressive playing
For his second recording as a leader, Chicago guitarist/composer John McLean and his group explore a broad aural pallette, adding voice and violin to his working quintet, as they explore a set of originals, pop standards such as the Beatles' Blackbird, and old standards, including a raucous, inventive take on Air Mail Special. Featuring vocalist Grazyna Auguscik and violinist Zach Brock. "...smokes with an authenticity that centers on exciting guitar leadership." -All About Jazz.
1 Better Angels 6:11
2 Ready for the War 7:37
3 Place Talk 5:51
4 Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me 6:49
5 Three Arcs Complete This Circle 5:50
6 Blackbird 5:07
7 Airmail Special 8:44
8 I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) 7:19
Produced by John McLean
Engineered & mastered by John Larson at the Chicago Recording Company, Chicago, IL on August 24 & 25, 2004
Cover photo by Rene Mansi
John McLean photo by Andrzej Staszok
Other photography by Todd Bishop
Cover design by John Bishop
All Music Guide (Scott Yanow)
Guitarist John McLean's Better Angels is certainly difficult to classify. Some pieces, such as "Ready for the War," come across as modern pop. Others are closer to the music of the Pat Metheny Group, while a few tunes are modernized swing standards including one of the strangest versions of "Airmail Special" one will ever hear. While there are some ...
All About Jazz.com (John Barron)
Guitarist/composer John McLean is an emerging musical voice for the 21st century. Steeped in tradition and propelled by contemporary influences, the Chicago-based musician sculpts an uncanny representation of an ever-widening American musical landscape. Better Angels, McLean's second release as a leader, is a stunning collection of original composi ...
Radioio.com (Dr. Mike)
Jazz guitarist John McLean's 25 year career has included work as a performer; composer; arranger; producer;bandleader,and educator. Since completing studies at The Berklee College of Music (B.M.) and the University of Miami (M.M.), Mclean has toured throughout the world performing and recording in a wide variety of musical contexts. He has appeared ...
Bop 'n Dicks 10 Picks (Dick Crockett)
A breeze of avant sophisticated hip full of voices, reeds and guitarist John McLean arranging this unique new cd, fresh from the Chicago new jazz scene. Greatness looms in Chicago's young writers, musicians and post bop innovators as they appear on this new cd with leader John Mclean reaches in and lifts up with other the fledgling, the promising a ...
JazzTimes (Forrest Dylan Bryant)
Eclecticism is the name of the game on this flowing contemporary set, as guitarist McLean tackles swing standards, gloomy pop songs and three speedy, pulse-quickening original tunes. Alternating a precise, silvery acoustic sound with a biting electric tone, McLean matches nicely with Grazyna Auguscik's sweetly ethereal, delicately accented vocals. ...
Chicagojazz.net (Brad Walseth)
Guitarist John McLean opens up his sophomore effort as a leader sounding somewhat like Pat Metheny on the original title track. Grazyna Auguscik's lovely wordless vocals float through, accompanied by Jim Gailloreto's soprano sax, before Zach Brock enters with a choice violin solo. McLean answers with a burning solo of his own, while bassist Larry K ...
Chicago Jazz.com (Paul Abella)
John McLean's last album, Easy Go, was a personal favorite. So I awaited his latest, Better Angels, with baited breath. While this is a vastly different album than its predecessor, it has its own charms that make it an equally engaging and interesting album. McLean has chosen some fantastic sidemen for this project, all of whom bring something f ...
The Davis Enterprise
Thursday, July 3, 2008 (Ric Bang)
A lot of good guitarists are recording these days, and John McLean is one of the better ones. McLean, who works the Chicago area these days, has been performing for more than 25 years and has been involved in more than two dozen releases by other artists during that time. This is just his second album as a leader/composer/arranger. Like so ...