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JACKIE MCLEAN - Right Now! cover
4.79 | 10 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1966

Filed under Hard Bop


A1 Eco
A2 Poor Eric
B1 Christel's Time
B2 Right Now


Jackie McLean - alto saxophone
Larry Willis - piano
Bob Cranshaw - bass
Clifford Jarvis - drums

About this release

Blue Note ‎– BLP 4215 (US)

Recorded on January 29, 1965, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Thanks to snobb, Abraxas for the updates


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For twenty one months between August 1964 and April 1966 Jackie McLean recorded eight different sessions as leader at Blue Note and that is not counting another four with Lee Morgan in this time span. This one which produced the album "Right Now" was recorded January 1965 and for me is one of his best when Jackie McLean had changed his approach to Jazz and although he started with BeBop and a complete adoration for Charlie Parker who was his major influence, Jackie soon embraced the more stretched out form Hard Bop within in his own development and still always that foundation could be heard from his Bird days. Change would always be something that Jackie McLean embraced throughout his entire musical existence and by this time in 1965, Jackie was literally out there with 'Action" being his previous album but previous to that one he had done "One Step Beyond", "Destination Out" and "Let Freedom Ring" all that were firmly placed in that time as new Jazz with modal and avante garde structures all contained within these albums. The one constant though for Jackie McLean is he never forgot his early days with Charlie Parker and that is a grasp on the melody no matter how far out you can always hear Bird's ghost. Jackie had a great up front in your face tone, yes he played hard with no airy fairy breathy pieces, his horn was blasting with a great hard tone and of course it always flowed just beautifully.

The band are all young and right into the new change in Jazz that was happening at this albums time as Jackie often picked young musicians who he thought had a much better grasp on what he wanted his albums to sound like. With this one which is just a quartet we have Larry Willis on piano who had not long graduated from music school with very little professional experience as he had only been playing with Hugh Masekela and had been gigging in Jackie's band around New York. Bob Cranshaw is on bass and how many albums has that man strummed on but already at this time five years after his recording debut, he has recorded with Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Grant Green just to name three and these were the albums that today are considered Jazz masterpieces being "The Bridge", "The Sidewinder" and "Idle Moments" with this one being just another. Clifford Jarvis is another fairly new man on the scene and his experience has been with Sun Ra predominately but also the odd session with Freddie Hubbard as well. One of the reasons Jackie picked young bands was because it was them who were actually playing this form of Jazz and another reason may have been that they were more open to new ideas which Jackie McLean was in pursuit of himself.

Jackie leads in with a quick statement of the theme for the first composition and follows with a wonderful frantic solo on this up tempo number but with all those loopy chord changes that Jackie inserts it is always the Bop that comes through his alto saxophone with lightning changes and although it would be termed as Post Bop he still is injecting his Bop roots and plays as such on the albums opening number "Eco" with a great flowing piano solo from Larry Willis to follow. "Poor Eric" which is a tribute to Eric Dolphy and written by Larry Willis is almost the opposite to the first with its slow time and melancholy introspection that Jackie plays with beautiful slow placing of each note that he emits and yet although seemingly unnoticable in places he quickly inserts the odd quick loop and to follow with what could be described as graceful is the piano solo from Larry Willis on this wonderful atmospheric number. Jackie McLean always played with a firm approach with each note always clear and at times described as abrasive but he could play a slow number or ballad as good as anyone with that precise feel required as "Poor Eric" had to have but the up tempo drive is back with all of Jackie's quick flowing changes which is another Larry Willis composition being "Christel's Tune" and as such with the previous number there is a 10 minute length giving ample room for some great stretching out for the musicians but it is Jackie who gets the lions share with Larry Willis on piano providing another solo after Jackie with Clifford Jarvis on drums and although the pattern does not change a lot for the band in which these compositions were arranged the album is far from repetitive as each tune has its own distinct sound. The title track "Right Now" is the album closer and written by the trumpeter Charles Tolliver who actually was a sideman in Jackie's previous release "Action" but not so here. One of the best compositions for me on the album and although it starts with a quite a loopy intro from Jackie's alto saxophone it is Blues in the Hard Bop manner that sufaces in this lengthy composition during Jackie's solo and that is precisely where the charm always laid with Jackie McLean he could head right out there but he still kept one foot always on the melody and you would think that this almost Avante interpretation that Jackie plays with his solo is far from it but those Bop lines just keep jumping in throughout on this contrasting composition with its Bop insertions.Great stuff and the added bonus is the alt take which is included on the cd release is a tad longer and just as good as the original of "Right Now" even if Jackie's solo does seem a little looser at times and he really screeches it out in places on this great alternate version.

Within all these sessions that Jackie McLean recorded these albums with Blue Note there were two that were never released at the time with "JackKnife" being one which has since been released in 1975 as a double album and 2004 on cd but there is another that has only sufaced on Mosaic and that is the the album "High Frequency" which was recorded in April 1966. If you are a fan one wonders if there is a reason but whatever I still would like to see the session released from this interesting time in Jackie McLeans career. As for this album "Right Now" it is essential Jazz from one of the best exponents on Alto Saxophone you could wish to hear. Full stop.

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