Born April 24, 1974 in New Rochelle, New York, Jordan is the only child of Alan and Cynthia McLean (computer analyst and painter/community activist respectively). He was raised in and around New York City, including Hell's Kitchen, Astoria and Mamaroneck. At age 6, McLean began piano lessons with Michael Raskin, son of famed composer Gene Raskin and was given his first trumpet at age 10 via the PS 111 band program. McLean attended high school in Leonia, NJ. While attending high school from 1988 until 1992, McLean studied trumpet with teacher Ed Treutal, theory and band practice with legendary band director Larry Silverman, and travelled to Manhattan School of Music to attend their Pre-College program (1991-1992). After high school, McLean attended SUNY Purchase where he graduated summa cum laude in composition, was an ArtsBridge America Scholar and studied with compositional luminaries Dary John Mizelle and Joel Thome.
McLean is a charter member and lead trumpeter of the world-renowned Afrobeat band Antibalas, created in 1998 by Bosco Mann and Martin Perna. His work with the Afrobeat ensemble has led to collaborations with such iconic musical artists as David Byrne, St. Vincent (musician), Iron and Wine, Pretty Lights, TV on the Radio, Patti Smith, Chic, Alabama Shakes, Medeski Martin and Wood, The Roots, Public Enemy, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Beyoncé, Angelique Kidjo (including her 2007 Grammy-winning album, Djin Djin), My Morning Jacket, Azelia Banks and appearances on Saturday Night Live, VH1 Divas, and two of Comedy Central’s “The Comedy Awards. Other TV appearances include Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Conan, and The Late Show With David Letterman. His radio credits include performances and interviews on Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”, and multiple appearances on New York's W-BAI, WNYC’s “Soundcheck”, Columbia University's WKCR, and the legendary KEXP in Seattle.
In 2006, McLean began work as the Associate Musical Director, contributing composer/arranger and trumpeter for Bill T. Jones’ 2009 Tony Award winning Broadway production of Fela! As a member of the Fela! band, he has performed at St. Ann's Warehouse, on the television programs The View and The Colbert Report, and has composed and arranged for Patti Labelle. His work as a composer and arranger is featured on the Grammy nominated Fela! Original Broadway Cast Album.
McLean is the regular trumpeter for Iron and Wine, with whom he has toured North America. He also performs with The Sway Machinery, with whom he has performed in clubs and synagogues around the U.S. and festivals in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Mali, including the Festival Au Desert, outside of Timbuktu. McLean has brought his unique performance style to club and festival stages throughout the US and twenty countries, including such esteemed festivals as Istanbul Jazz Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, Coachella, WOMAD and many others, also having toured coast-to-coast for two consecutive years playing the Canadian Jazz Festival circuit.
McLean’s work as a recording artist includes sessions for famed producers such as Bosco Mann, Mark Ronson, Wyclef Jean and Tony Visconte as well as labels such as Daptone Records, Blue Note Records, Verve, Razor and Tie, Desco, Ropeadope Records, Ninja Tune, and JDub Records.
McLean’s original compositions have been performed in New York and throughout Europe by contemporary music ensembles such as Cadillac Moon Ensemble and Till By Turning. He has adapted and conducted Mauricio Kagel's Music For Renaissance Instruments and actively commissions promising young arrangers for radical re-orchestrations of masterworks. Most recently he was commissioned by The Bronxville Public Library for a dance suit “Bronze In The Digital Age”, a multi-media piece based on five sculptures by Pierre Rodin, and a new work, PANGRAM, for Siren Baroque chamber orchestra. Along with Herbie Hancock, he was a spokesman for The 2013 UNESCO International Jazz Day.
As a bandleader, McLean has released two albums of original music with his nine-piece group, Fire Of Space. The title track of their album “Handbasket” is featured in the film Sleepwalk with Me. The group has performed in venues throughout New York and Chicago, including as an opening act for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.
As an educator, McLean has been an adjunct professor of musicology at his alma mater, SUNY Purchase. He currently teaches private composition lessons at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he completed jazz trumpet studies, and has over a decade of experience with LEAP (Learning through an Expanded Arts Program) as a visiting artist in NYC public schools.
In 2010 McLean founded System Dialing Records with drummer, Amir Ziv. Together they formed the electro-acoustic group DROID which features such esteemed musicians as the world renowned Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and former Miles Davis music director Adam Holzman. McLean and Ziv have also started the duo Directors, focusing on creating music for film score, albums and live performance. Since the label’s creation, McLean has produced a solo album for Jeremiah Lockwood, produced and released a solo album of his own entitled World Gone Mad and most recently released the full-length studio album “New Vocabulary” in collaboration with Ornette Coleman and Adam Holzman.