We gave it an A-
In 1968 McLean, a superb bop alto saxophonist, accepted a teaching post at the University of Hartford, where he is now chairman of African-American music. His performances since then have been sporadic. Academe’s gain; our loss. Yet here he is, back in full throttle, with a steamy rhythm section and his son René, who applies his father’s famously tart sound to tenor sax. Like expensive cognac, McLean’s sax permeates and parches at the same time. He once said, ”Jazz is a party music,” and his new record certainly sounds like a party, urgent and elated. Though not varied or measured enough to stand with his best work, it’s a welcome return. Except for a sultry ”Knot the Blues” and an unlikely standard (”House Is Not a Home”), jubilation carries the day.