a tribut page and work in progress

John McLellan (1968 - October 29, 2014)
An extraordinary musician; a truly original drummer and improviser in a language of rhythmic orchestration and dynamics, counterpoint in ideas, space, touch, spirit...
The recent passing of this dear friend and close associate of ours had a most profound affect on us all. The cause of his death was Mesothelioma. I saw him for the last time on October 26th at Tuft's Hospital in Boston.
I was first introduced to Johnny through violist Mat Maneri back in 2004. They already had a rapport going back many years, and a closely related family style of improvisation which can only really be thoroughly understood through aural transmission, listening and first-hand experience, rehearsals... Around the same time I also formed a quartet with Johnny, saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and Eivind Opsvik we called THE UP. It all made a very deep impact on my development as an improviser, and will continue to.
For the sake of this work and dedication, I felt it necessary to organize the documentation I have of this history, starting from the beginning.

with Mat Maneri and John McLellan
August 19, 2004, 2:00-6:00am, WFMU studios, Jersey City

Trio set #1

Trio set #2


first duet performance
AUGUST 26, 2004
Live at Elixir. NYC



Quartet page:


Mat and Joe Maneri quintet
Joe Maneri, alto saxophone; Mat Maneri, viola; BG, trombone; Jacob Sacks, keyboard; John Hebert, bass; John McLellan, drums
January 12, 2006 at BARBES, Brooklyn.

Track 1


Mat Maneri's PENTAGON

Mat Maneri, viola; Joe Maneri, reeds and organ; BG, trombone; Craig Taborn, piano and electronics; Ed Schuller, bass; John McLellan, drums
* These were also the last public performances by Joe Maneri (1927-2009)

October 21, 2006 - live in Maine

Part 1 37:51

Part 2 18:39

Part 3 11:09

October 22, 2006 - live in Cambridge

Part 1 21:56

Part 2 22:07

Part 3 12:14

October 23, 2006 - live in Montreal

Part 1 30:47

Part 2 25:43

Part 3 10:05

Joe Maneri 1:02

October 25, 2006 - live in Philadelphia

Part 1 24:46

Part 2 47:46

October 26, 2006 - live in NYC

Part 1 33:33

Part 2 6:49



BG - trombone, record players
Jacob Sacks (left), Craig Taborn (right) - farfisa organ
Thomas Morgan (left), Eivind Opsvik (right) - bass
Dan Weiss (left), John McLellan (right) - drums
Jacob Garchik - computer, accordion

September 18, 2009 - New Languages Festival, Brooklyn, NY



Back in July of 2010 at a gig of guitarist Chris Welcome's quartet, I happened to have my camera with me and simply couldn't take it off Johnny. He was killing me! On display for all to see... At his best. Taking the music to levels only he could. On the day of his death, it suddenly hit me that it was time to release this footage. (For years I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, since it was essentially focused on him.) Luckily I had just gotten it back, as it was on a hard drive which had recently broken and cost me hundreds of dollars to get the data back from. It is the only video that exists of its kind, and a truly important document of his character which needs to be more widely understood and appreciated. He is so beautiful, so brilliant, entranced, serving the music so fully, so originally, so naturally. Watching it for me now is essentially prayer in his remembrance. I feel relieved that more people will see and hear him in action like this now. Chris's music too and the playing of all involved is also so important, so deeply connected, sympathetic, honest, inspired...
With love, I offer,