Jackie McLean was one of the few hard bop stars (John Coltrane was another) who was greatly affected by the avant-garde innovations of the 1960s. His sound did not change but his solos became freer and much more emotional. By the time he played in Baltimore for the 1966 concert released on this CD, he had greatly opened up his style and had reconciled his roots with free jazz. With the strong assistance of pianist Lamont Johnson, bassist Scotty Holt and drummer Billy Higgins, McLean stretches out on five numbers (including a previously unreleased "Jossa Bossa") which clock in between 8 and over 14 1/2 minutes. From the start the music is quite intense and it may take listeners a few moments to get used to the altoist's abrasive and sharp tone. However his creative ideas and constant originality win one over fast and, by the time he finished the set with a blues ("Closing"), the logic of Jackie McLean's improvisations is more apparent. The recording quality is sometimes a little distorted but the power, color and pure courage of the music is memorable.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow