Those who have always enjoyed Jackie McLean's many studio recordings likely were frustrated at his lack of live performance due to his dedication to teaching. This recording will give fans a good account of what he was capable of in this club date setting done in Belgium. With no other complementary horn to play off, McLean's alto is in full flight, a bit less tart or acerbic, and definitely more tuneful than usual, and ripping through these compositions like a sharp rotary saw blade. African pianist Hotep Idris Galeta is an interesting choice for the group, as he plays anything from straight bop to Abdullah Ibrahim-type township styles, while bassist Nat Reeves and especially drummer Carl Allen get the job done with a workman's precision and great reverence for McLean's discipline and style. One thing you can say about McLean is that he has little time for messing around, as he jumps right into the straight-ahead bop of the opener "Cyclical," as Galeta's stabbing piano chords urge the altoist into a full-force charge. "Minor March" is hardly trivial or pedantic, as the band immediately goes into a frantic, hard bop, fifth gear bolt, steaming to exhaustion. Quoting several standards, McLean's "Five" is based via "Night in Tunisia," but goes off into tangents as the members are introduced. Galeta's heritage is utilized during "Dance Little Mandissa" as the bright, modal inferences directly borrowed from Ibrahim merge into another repeat phrase phase reminiscent of McCoy Tyner. McLean's legendary intertwined, licorice-sharp tone is not so much prevalent, a bit toned down on the light samba "Song for My Queen," but is no less extroverted. Ballads were never his strong suit, but he does "'Round Midnight" anyway for over 11 minutes, strong like black coffee in a bit too many notes. This is a valuable document for McLean, as far too few live performances were ever documents, and this shows him in very good form about a decade before he passed away.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos