JACKIE McLEAN Destination… Out! (Music Matters)

It’s tempting to view this 1964 album as a companion piece to Grachan Moncur III’s “Evolution”, recorded two months later. Not only is there a significant overlap in personnel – McLean, Moncur and Bobby Hutcherson play on both –but seven of the eight compositions spread over the two albums are Moncur’s. Listening to the opener “Love And Hate” makes the connection explicit: its lazy, dragging tempo, like a woozy funeral dirge, is of a piece with the title track of Grachan’s set.

The appropriately titled “Esoteric” is a spiky, angular thing, bordering on Dolphy-esque, timeshifting from three-four to four-four. McLean’s sole composition here, “Kahlil The Prophet”, is very much in the spirit of what surrounds it, by turns slinky and chaotic. Hutcherson makes his vibes sound like a metallic waterfall during his solo here. Finally, the bluesy “Riff Raff” isn’t a free jazz cover of the AC/DC tune, but flirts with orthodoxy by the standard of its companions nevertheless. 

Despites its 180 gram 45rpm loveliness, “Destination… Out!” isn’t the greatest of Music Matters’ lovingly produced Blue Note reissues, my copy having uncharacteristically ticky surfaces in places and some occasional distortion on Moncur’s trombone. Aesthetically, though, they still hit the bullseye: the thick cardboard sleeve is glossed almost to a mirror finish, with pinsharp graphics and rare photos lining the gatefold. It’s a wonder to behold, if slightly less so to listen to.