If you ask Mark McLean about his biggest musical influences, the answer is likely to take more time than you have. Even if you ask for just the 'main ones' the list will go on and on. And it is a diverse list; from Johann Sebastian Bach to James Brown (and those are only the 'B's).
Mark began his career at age nine as a gifted classical pianist but by age fourteen had started a second career playing the drums. By the time he was eighteen, the drums eclipsed the piano as Mark's voice for musical expression and it wasn't long before Mark was playing with fellow Canadian and jazz icon, Oscar Peterson.
In 1998 Mark graduated with honors from The University of Toronto with a Bachelors of Performance in Jazz. It was U of T faculty member Don Thompson who invited him to play on the first of the more than forty recordings on which Mark appears. That summer Mark taught at Canada's I.M.C. Jazz camp and at the Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute.
Mark moved to New York City in 1999 following receipt of a grant awarded him by the Canada Council of the Arts. He began study with jazz drummer Kenny Washington and was immediately seduced by the drive and energy of the city's thriving jazz scene. "When I got here I was completely overwhelmed but definitely had the feeling that it was the place where I was supposed to be."
It wasn't long before Mark's reputation as a superb musician resulted in a constantly ringing telephone. Singer and pianist Andy Bey was the first to call. Bey describes Mark as "an intelligent, immensely talented young musician with a curious mind and a listening ear". The next call was from saxophonist Dewey Redman and soon there were performances with Diana Krall, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Carla Cook, Joe Sample, Andy Ezrin, Patti Austin, the Backstreet Boys, Quincy Jones...the list goes on. Recording highlights include Gladys Knight, Linda Eder, Andy Bey, Molly Johnson, Peter Cincotti, Andrea Bocelli, Serena Ryder, and Jane Bunnett. Said legendary producer Phil Ramone following a recording session with Billy Joel; "Mark McLean is a tasty, sure handed drummer, a song man's musician."
Mark credits his many influences with his ever-developing musical vocabulary. He has tremendous fluidity and fluency in Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Funk, and R & B. He believes that the sum of individual styles represents the whole of human expression. Freedom from the burden of musical categorization enables Mark to fully explore his own voice.