Jackie McLean – 4, 5 and 6

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  • Outstanding sound throughout for this Prestige/OJC pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Shockingly good All Tube Mono sound from 1956 courtesy of Rudy Van Gelder, and the high-rez, tonally correct and wide-bandwidth mastering brings out even the most subtle nuances of the sound of these superbs groups of four, five and six players
  • 4 stars: “4, 5 and 6 presents McLean’s quartet on half the date, and tunes with an expanded quintet, and one sextet track — thus the title… [it] does foreshadow the future of McLean as an innovative musician in an all-too-purist mainstream jazz world.”

This vintage Prestige pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of 4, 5 and 6 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1956
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on 4, 5 and 6

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Jackie McLean – alto sax Hank Mobley – tenor sax Donald Byrd – trumpet Mal Waldron – piano Doug Watkins – bass Art Taylor – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Sentimental Journey
Why Was I Born?
Contour

Side Two

Confirmation
When I Fall In Love
Abstraction

AMG 4 Star Review

4, 5 and 6 presents McLean’s quartet on half the date, and tunes with an expanded quintet, and one sextet track — thus the title. Mal Waldron, himself an unconventional pianist willing to explore different sizings and shadings of progressive jazz, is a wonderful complement for McLean’s notions, with bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Taylor the impervious team everyone wanted for his rhythm section at the time.

4, 5 and 6 does not break barriers, but does foreshadow the future of McLean as an innovative musician in an all-too-purist mainstream jazz world.

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