John McLean grew up on Long Island, went to high school in Detroit (where he started playing gigs at 16), and then moved on to Boston – where he attended the Berklee College of Music –before heading for Florida to get his master’s degree from the University of Miami in 1988. He then moved to Nova Scotia for three years to teach, before finally arriving in Chicago to concentrate on making his own music.
Since then John has appeared on more than twenty recordings, including albums led by fellow Chicago musicians Terry Collier, Grazyna Auguscik, Patricia Barber amd Janice Borla. He has performed live with many jazz greats, including Randy Brecker, Jane Ira Bloom, Arthur Blythe, Kurt Elling and Jerry Granelli, while becoming one of the leading figures on the Chicago jazz scene. Neil Tesser, writing in the Chicago Reader, stated: “No jazz musician in Chicago can more quickly electrify a tune or galvanize an audience; for that matter, only a few jazz guitarists throughout the country can match the focused intensity of his playing. Once he has your attention, he holds on to it with quick, hard stories perched between street-talk and Olympian pronouncement.” McLean’s most recent recording Better Angels is available on Origin Records.