The bopped and the bopless
CHRIS INGHAM, MOJO ****
"...Random highlights in this consistently engaging and entertaining set include his authentic Meade Lux-Lewis style piano among a brilliantly unruly cover of The Ruts’ Babylon’s Burning, the ballad Polly, which blossoms from straightforward sentiment into a scribbly jazz painting, and the emotional closer Shizannah featuring McLean’s twisted soul vocal..."
ANDY ROBSON, JAZZWISE ****
"...for its piano playing alone – Massarik made no bones of namechecking Art Tatum when writing of McLean – The Bopped is rich with McLean’s talents: just check out those long swinging runs on I Waited For You. But it’s also typical of McLean that he takes that Dizzy song and gives it an almost surreal edge. ...Now indeed may be the time for McLean and his unique vision."
SAMMY STEIN, JAZZ IN EUROPE
"...Benet can create musical pictures and manipulate the listener in ways subtle and yet so effective. It is as if he is a sponge and has soaked up influences from the jazz greats and some good vocalists and to this he adds his own natural talent. The result is something different, impressive and totally engaging. This music has life, energy and a vitality born not just of technical expertise but intuitive, effervescent comprehension of the effect each tune can create... The term 'amazing' is overused in reviews and long ago I vowed only to use 'awesome' on rare occasions when I was struck by something exceptional. Sometimes one is left with no choice. This album is awesome."
CHRIS SEARLE, THE MORNING STAR
"...The Bopped And The Bopless stews up its music with the world we live in and all its inequities as well as its joys and is a very original and potent album indeed."
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"...This is as fine an example of cross-gendering as you'll find in a long day's pogoing across the great divide. Suddenly the divide doesn't seem that great!"
DAVE JONES, JAZZ JOURNAL
"A refreshing album... McLean's ability at the piano alone would be impressive, but he is also an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and singer, composed at least half of the material here and arranged it all."
CHARLES WARING, RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
"...His wonderfully-titled album, The Bopped And The Bopless (*** 33 Xtreme), is mostly self-penned... ...including a startling, rambunctious, big band-style cover of The Ruts’ Babylon’s Burning. Fittingly, it makes for incendiary stuff."
SANDY BROWN JAZZ
"The Bopped And The Bopless is an inspired album with imaginative arrangements and draws on a cornucopia of influences to deliver a truly satisfying listening experience..."
MUSICWEB EXPRESS 3000 (MWE3)
"...An outstanding pianist, composer-arranger and vocalist, Benet really comes alive on his 2016 release for the 33 Jazz label. ...even the most ardent jazz fan will have to admit that Benet McLean's album The Bopped And The Bopless is one of the most original sounding and most adventurous jazz vocal albums of 2016."
In the land of oo-bla-dee
JACK MASSARIK, JAZZWISE MAGAZINE ****
"Early as it comes, I expect this to become my UK album of the year. Pianist-singer-rapper-composer Benet McLean is not young enough to be described as a new discovery but he seems to have been making giant strides lately. On these tracks he’s positively bursting with talent and energy. I first caught him live in an unbalanced duo with Jean Toussaint which did not work well at all, but with his own trio, as on this album, his second, he’s simply sensational.
Whether rocking along in brisk stride or gliding in ultra-fast bop, as he does on the opening track, Charlie Parker’s ‘Klactoveedsedstene’, he swings like a garage roof in a hurricane. At live gigs he’s also been known to break into contemporary Errol Garner musings, but this does not make him a mere stylistic chameleon. Whichever historical chapter he feels like opening, his playing is personal, driven and passionate. There’s no covers-feeling, it’s all Benet McLean. ‘Giant Steps’ has never sounded more fun, and to my ears nobody has incorporated rap - usually an ugly, overbearing rant, messily disconnected to a boring, metronomic beat - into jazz more successfully than he does.
Add a gift for fractured French (‘Tu Captes ou Quoi Blues’) and sense of humour - so essential in art and life - and the results are irresistible. Dodd, Miller and Yarde, a powerful soloist on alto and soprano saxes, combine admirably to bring McLean’s visions to life, their group-vocal riffs working beautifully. The moods change from funky to stormy to brooding near-silences, eased along by assured and ever-creative piano comping. This album is an extroardinary achievement that would raise eyebrows internationally if Benet had a recording and distribution deal. It’s ridiculous that he has neither and must market them from his own website. But get hold of a copy, check it out, marvel and enjoy."
Cliches (for another day)
KEITH AMES, MUSICIAN MAGAZINE
"Recorded totally live in a few hours, this album of liberated jazz has a vibrancy and urgency rare even for this genre. Escorted by a crack team of Roger Crosdale - saxophone, Chris Dodd - bass, and Nick France - drums, Benet McLean generates an environment conclusive to creativity, drawing on every drop of nuance from material and bandmates. Appreciation of the tunes, starting with Tempo X, only grows as recognized by Humphrey Lyttleton, who has featured Benet on his BBC Radio 2 show. A STORMER!!"