The legendary alto sax player began playing saxophone at the age of 15 in native New York City. Schooled in bebop at the start of his career, McLean names Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker as influences. He's played with jazz greats pianist Bud Powell, Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. He continues to play and record today. He also teaches music at the University of Hartford.
Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews two reissues featuring the late soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy — a live recording of a 1963 quartet that only played Thelonious Monk tunes, and later music for solo soprano. Monk was always Lacy's biggest influence.
In November 1966, eight months before he died of cancer, John Coltrane played a concert at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was not a financial success —only 700 people showed up — and the band's high-energy music proved too much for some listeners. That concert recording is now officially out for the first time. It got Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead thinking about what Coltrane was up to.