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Jazz Legend and Hartt Pioneer Jackie McLean Dies
McLean was an internationally renowned musician who devoted much of his life to helping Hartford children and teaching the next generation of jazz greats.
“Jackie was a giant in the world of jazz, and a giant at the University of Hartford,” said President Walter Harrison. “What Jackie has given to the University will be impossible to replace. He’s given us a great gift and we need to maintain it, and we will strive to do just that.”
The Hartt School appointed McLean as a teaching associate in 1970. Ten years later, he founded the Department of African-American Music and subsequently established jazz studies as a degree program. Under McLean’s leadership, the department flourished, and The Hartt School became known for having one of the top jazz programs in the country. A legion of McLean protégés have graduated from the program and enjoyed tremendous success in the jazz world, including Sue Terry ’82, Jimmy Greene ’97, and Steve Davis ’89, a Hartt faculty member.
In celebration of McLean’s 30th anniversary with The Hartt School in 2000, the Department of African-American Music was re-named the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz.
In addition to his performing and composing career and his remarkable work at The Hartt School, McLean has had a profound influence on generations of Hartford youngsters. In 1970, he and his wife, Dollie McLean, founded the Artists Collective, an interdisciplinary arts and cultural center in Hartford’s north end. The Artists Collective has provided arts education to thousands of Hartford children and has grown into a nationally recognized program.
President Harrison said McLean “exemplified what a faculty member can do when he is committed to Hartford and to making it a wonderful place to live.”
McLean, considered one of the top alto saxophonists in jazz history, grew up in Harlem and began his musical career at an early age. He worked with such jazz legends as Miles Davis while he was still a teenager, and became a protégé of the great Charlie Parker. He has garnered numerous national and international awards, including an American Jazz Master honor from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In addition to his wife, Dollie, McLean is survived by three children: Rene, a well-known saxophonist; Vernone; and Melonae.
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