Leslie Maclean , pianist, composer, vocalist and teacher, has been a professional musician since the age of 13. While in college, Leslie worked extensively with free jazz proponent Muhul Richard Abrams. Her imaginative and artistic performance at the Midwest Intercollegiate Jazz Festival won her the esteemed American Music Foundation Award, granted to the single outstanding instrumental soloist at the event. Leslie was deemed “the best” by judging panelist Marian McPartland, who presented the award.
She opened for jazz legend Stan Kenton, and has appeared at many top Chicago jazz clubs and on television and radio. Leslie has also performed with guitarist Mundell Lowe and drummer Roy Burns. She cites as one of her main influences the music of the Big Bands, and enjoys bringing the ensemble-style articulations of the big band sound into her playing and her arrangements.
Her piano style also owes much to her background in classical music and displays a satisfying depth of touch and sensitivity to the piano keyboard. Leslie’s original tunes reflect her wide-ranging musical interests and run the gamut from straight-ahead swing and well-crafted ballads to driving Latin rhythms and jazz fusion.
Maclean earned a Master of Music in piano performance at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University.
“...Her arrangements of a variety of standards and three of her originals are full of subtle surprises and the tightness of her trio (with the pianist joined by bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Jerry Pollock) is impressive. In addition to fresh versions of “A Night In Tunisia,” “A Child Is Born,” “Billie’s Bounce,” ‘Poinciana” (which is given a different rhythm than usual) and “I Loves You, Porgy,” there is a 17 1/2 minute four-song “Wizard Of Oz” medley. Whether it is “Over The Rainbow” (which is partly taken in 5/4 time), a barely recognizable “We’re Off To See The Wizard” or a cooking rendition of “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead,” this medley is completely unpredictable. The music overall is modern mainstream jazz and world class.”
Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, April 2005
That’s Time Enough - a remarkable recording of jazz music by the Leslie Maclean Trio - was recorded in Kansas City and produced by Leslie Maclean and her husband Jerry Pollock, joined by Bob Bowman on bass. The album by the Kansas City based trio reflects a mixture of recognizable standards, along with Leslie’s original compositions, Chichen-Itza (#4), Roll in the Hay, (#10), and That’s Time Enough (#12).
The first two selections on this CD, A Night in Tunisia and A Child is Born are dynamic, infused with Leslie’s passion, like a mother with a big heart overflowing with love.
One of the highlights of this album is the Trio’s medley of tunes from the timeless classic Wizard of Oz, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow, We’re Off to See the Wizard, If I Only Had a Brain, and Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. Leslie Maclean’s playful rhythms seem to bring the tunes to life again, as though you could see her skipping along the yellow brick road with the scarecrow and the rest of the Oz gang. This effect is especially poignant on Leslie’s renditions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (#5), and the scarecrow’s lament “If I Only Had A Brain” (#7).
Review by Yo Nakagawa, Japan (Translated by Yoko Takemura)
When one picks up a Jazz CD these days, there are many things that can happen, you can listen and say “that’s cool, they do a good job covering those tunes” or you could say “Wow, I have never heard that song played like that before!” or you could do both. That is the case with this CD by The Leslie Maclean Trio, you say both! Maclean’s arrangements of some of the foundation standards such as A Child Is Born and I Loves You, Porgy are uniquely treated and played by the trio. What surprised me and hooked me on this CD was Maclean’s playful and creative interpretation of the medley from the Wizard of Oz. TO OZ? TO OZ! consists of four of the most remembered songs from Hollywood. But these compositions are even more memorable as Maclean adds a nuance to each that elicit memories from the movie, and at the same time, create whole new scenes in the listener’s head. This part of the CD is truly fun to listen to.
Maclean’s talent goes beyond the creation of new interpretations of old standards and familiar songs. Her playing is solid and is the anchor that holds the trio in place at each note. Her long-time playing partner, Jerry Pollock and Bassist, Bob Bowman provide a solid rhythm section, and foundation for Maclean to build her compositions on. They are tight in all aspects of the music and treat each arrangement with the sensitivity and expression that Maclean has defined. When you hear the fun expressed in the Wizard medley, you are immediately aware of the familiarity each player has with the other and you know right away, Maclean creates with the trio in mind. Chichen-Itza and Roll In The Hay are two originals by Maclean that offer a taste of her wide range of compositional flexibility and creativity.
Pollock’s skill on the kit and other percussion instruments is a highlight of the CD. Whether delivering strong chops in solos, or adding the appropriate sound in just the right place with a percussion instrument, Pollock provides sensitive support for all of Maclean’s arrangements. Bowman’s bass is more than just the bottom, and is the other half of a solid rhythm section. He creates his own sense of presence through notable solos, and a steady groove that both Pollock and Maclean take advantage of throughout the work.
That’s Time Enough is a remarkable straight-ahead jazz CD, but it is also a creative and just plain fun CD to listen to. From the first time you hear it, you will be caught up in the feel of the fun that this trio has when playing together. You won’t be able get some of the tunes out of your head. Tunes you thought you knew until you heard The Leslie Maclean Trio play them!!!
Charles Vecoli, Copyright © 2005 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved.
Leslie Maclean’s masterful pianistic dexterity and harmonic sophistication tend to rival some of jazz’s more prominent pianists on THAT’S TIME ENOUGH. Accompanied by Bob Bowman on bass and Jerry Pollock on drums and percussion, the pianist’s pursuit and approach to such songs as “A Night In Tunisia,” “A Child Is Born,” and “Poinciana,” are sure to bring much more and rightfully deserved critical acclaim to the St. Louis-based trio. Maclean’s playing is lyrical, swinging and especially tasteful. An especially inspired medley and tribute titled “To Oz, To Oz” (a reference to the motion picture titled The Wizard of Oz) shows her versatility and ability to jazz up one of America’s most recognizable scores. The trio plays with such skill and pizzazz that you’ll wonder why this particular arrangement isn’t played more often in the jazz repertoire of today’s top trios. “I Love You Porgy,” is played with great sensitivity and is one of the many great highlights on this recording. This is a great trio recording with a big band sound. Give them a listen at the SOTJ store and then Buy THAT’S TIME ENOUGH today.
Paula Edelstein, Music Journalist, Sounds of Timeless Jazz, January 2005
...Three Maclean originals give the program a touch of exoticism and stand out for their creative impetus. Piano leads with a lyrical understanding that incorporates the Blues into each telltale story. Maclean’s easy-going keyboard manner and effusive display from the right hand contribute plenty. She shows a firm belief in coaxing melodies from the heart, while her compositions and her crisp piano attack recall a kinship with the work of Dave Brubeck. Light, Latin backgrounds, lush harmonic textures and melodramatic ballad interpretations give the program variety. Bob Bowman’s walking bass provides strength in the trio’s applications. His solos stand out for their ease of communication. Drummer Jerry Pollock, Maclean’s husband, provides textural variety and approaches each interpretation with the ear of a subtle designer. His “in the pocket” drive on “Poinciana” helps to make the trio’s presentation of a familiar melody unique.
Their Wizard of Oz medley brings smiles. Here, the trio has adapted familiar material with a highly unique voice all its own. Maclean zips unexpectedly into 5/4 time, tosses in the Blues for good measure, and celebrates these favorite tunes by running in and out of character with many pleasant surprises.
Jim Santella, Cadence – November 2006
Oct. 10 was a night of local beauty. After the sun had gone down and the lights of the fabulous Fox Theatre kicked on, couples holding hands moseyed inside Jazz at the Bistro to enjoy The Leslie Maclean Trio, which was hosting a CD release party for its latest, That’s Time Enough”.
...Facing away from the crowd while playing, the lovely Maclean, a transplant from Chicago, would turn and introduce the next song and make small talk. She warmed up to the crowd like a distant aunt you had just met. She giggled and boasted about her husband and how she fired the old drummer when she met him. Maclean—robust and delicate, life loving and passionate, displayed a variety of influences, and she could play jazz as if she has done it all her life yet she could display her classical side just as well.
...The third tune was another one of Maclean’s own, “Chichen-Itza”. Starting off with a rain stick gently spilling over, it then moved into a great solo that started off with a primal kind of bass drum and low toms sound, which gave way to a gentle tapping and then the piano and bass faded in to create a pensive blend. The trio continued with a couple more classics, Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia”. They did the greats justice and put their own swing on it in doing so.
...The Leslie Maclean Trio is a wonderful band of talented musicians, and Jazz at the Bistro, which commonly showcases nationally known touring artists, was a perfect venue for such an event.
James Oerding, West End Word, October 2004