Whether Jackie McLean was deliberately taking a page out of the playbook by surrounding himself with a group of uber-talented, younger players to push his capabilities, or whether he was simply looking to build a band he felt best able to blow the doors off the studio; mission accomplished. ‘New York Calling’ is perhaps McLean’s best record of the 1970s. ‘New York Calling’—recorded and released in the Fall of 1974–grooves effortlessly between modal and advanced hard-bop, with occasional nods to the inside/outside influences that made McLean’s 60s albums like ‘Destination…Out!’ and ‘One Step Beyond’ so compelling. Those are fleeting sonic glimpses at best, though, and the majority of this record is pretty melodic, though still cerebral enough to satisfy more adventurous ears. McLean, who’d recently returned from a few years in Europe, sounds energized and engaged throughout, getting gold stars for both playing and band leadership. But the heroes of this session are pianist Billy Gault and trumpeter/arranger Billy Skinner who between them composed all five tracks on this beast of a record. The tunes are all interesting, the arrangements clever, and the requisite musicianship is first class. Bassist James Benjamin and drummer Michael Carvin keep things tight but loose, while Jackie and his son Rene (tenor/soprano sax) just WAIL. Even on the more mid and downtempo tunes such as “Star Dancer,” there’s a quiet intensity of fire & brimstone, and the acerbic, trademark sharp tone that reminds you that you’re listening to Jackie McLean. This one’s relatively easy to find in the bins, and available across all digital platforms (though missing a track on Tidal for some reason). Good listen! Originally issued on Steeplechase SCS-1023, this is a US pressing on Inner City Records IC-2023