Mark McLean’s Holiday Soul Party

Lester McLean – Sax/Vocals
Michael Occhipinti – Guitar
Michael Shand – Keyboards
Calvin Beale – Bass
Mark McLean – Drums

If you ask Mark McLean about his biggestmusical influences, the answer is likely to take more time than youhave. Even if you ask for just the ‘main ones’ the list will go on andon. And it is a diverse list;  from Johann Sebastian Bach to JamesBrown (and those are only the ‘B’s)

Markbegan his career  at age nine as a gifted classical pianist but by agefourteen had started a second career playing the drums.  By the time hewas eighteen, the drums eclipsed the piano as Mark’s voice for musicalexpression and it wasn’t long before Mark was playing with fellowCanadian and jazz icon, Oscar Peterson.

In1998 Mark graduated with honors from The University of Toronto with aBachelors of Performance in Jazz.  It was U of T faculty member DonThompson who invited him to play on the first of the more than fortyrecordings on which Mark appears. That summer Mark taught at Canada’sI.M.C. Jazz camp and at the Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute.

Markmoved to New York City in 1999 following receipt of a grant awarded himby the Canada Council of the Arts.  He began study with jazz drummerKenny Washington and was immediately seduced by the drive and energy ofthe city’s thriving jazz scene. ‘When I got here I was completelyoverwhelmed but definitely had the feeling that it was the place whereI was supposed to be.’

It wasn’t longbefore Mark’s reputation as a superb musician resulted in a constantlyringing telephone. Singer and pianist Andy Bey was the first to call.Bey describes Mark as ‘an intelligent, immensely talented youngmusician with a curious mind and a listening ear’.  The next call wasfrom saxophonist Dewey Redman and soon there were performances withDiana Krall, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Carla Cook, Joe Sample, AndyEzrin, Patti Austin, the Backstreet Boys, Quincy Jones, , , ..the listgoes on.  Recording highlights include Gladys Knight, Linda Eder, AndyBey, Molly Johnson,  Peter Cincotti, Andrea Bocelli, Serena Ryder, andJane Bunnett. Said legendary producer Phil Ramone following a recordingsession with Billy Joel; ‘Mark McLean is a tasty, sure handed drummer,a song man’s musician.’

In addition tocritical acclaim by audiences and musicians, Mark has enjoyed theendorsement of Regal Tip Mallets and Brushes, Zildjian Sticks andCymbals, and Yamaha Drums.

Mark credits his many influences withhis ever-developing musical vocabulary.  He has tremendous fluidity andfluency in Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Funk, and R & B. He believes that thesum of individual styles represents the whole of human expression.Freedom from the burden of musical categorization enables Mark to fullyexplore his own voice.