Acclaimed saxophonist and hard-bop innovator Jackie McLean was a vital contributor to the direction of jazz music into post-bop by introducing elements of the avant-garde through the 1950s and ’60s. His Blue Note studio album Destination…Out! (Blue Note, 1964) brings forward these elements.
McLean became an active presence in New York City after bebop revolutionized and dominated the jazz scene. At a young age and before starting to lead his own groups, he learned from prominent figures such as Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, and Charlie Parker.
His first recording as a jazz musician came when he was only 16 years old. His first significant collaboration as an alto saxophonist was on the album Dig (Prestige, 1951) where he featured as a sideman alongside Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis. He continued working with Miles Davis and accompanied the trumpetist on his first Blue Note recording session in 1952. His name appeared next to Miles Davis’s on various Blue Note albums, which led to releasing his own debut as a leader: Presenting… Jackie McLean: The New Tradition (Ad Lib, 1955).
In 1956, he became a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers collective and stayed with them until 1958. During these years, he played a vital role in developing hard bop alongside Art Blakey and so, he became one of its pioneers. His Jazz Messengers years were not exclusive, McLean continued to produce successful albums on various labels as both a leader and sideman. His most notable work aside from the Jazz Messengers recordings were the recordings with Charlie Mingus’ band, and the recording of the “enduring hard-bop classic” (The New York Times) album titled Cool Struttin’ by jazz pianist Sonny Clark (Blue Note, 1958).
“Of all of McLean’s Blue Note dates, so many of which are classic jazz recordings, Destination Out! stands as the one that reveals the true soulfulness and complexity of his writing, arranging, and ‘singing’ voice.”Thom Jurek (review for AllMusic)
By the time Destination…Out! was recorded and released, McLean was an icon of the NYC jazz scene. In the years building up to the Destination…Out! recording, McLean’s innovative hard bop sound progressed and elements of the avand-garde began to take the surface. McLean got Inspired by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane which make him seek greater freedom of expression in his music. “Today, we live in an age of speed and variety; we live in an age of men seeking to explore words beyond; and since music is just an expression of the happenings around us, it is quite natural for the young musicians to express or attempt to express the mood and tempo of our time; just as ragtime music painted a portrait of the era of prohibition, so too does today’s jazz paint a portrait of the space age,” McLean wrote for the album’s liner notes.
Destination…Out! Track listing
- “Love and Hate” (Grachan Moncur III) – 8:25
- “Esoteric” (Moncur) – 9:02
- “Kahlil the Prophet” (Jackie McLean) – 10:23
- “Riff Raff” (Moncur) – 7:07
- Jackie McLean – alto saxophone
- Grachan Moncur III – trombone
- Bobby Hutcherson – vibes
- Larry Ridley – bass
- Roy Haynes – drums
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