Jackie McLean: One Step Beyond (1963) Blue Note

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Selection: Saturday and Sunday (McLean)

Artists

Grachan Moncur III (trb) Jackie McLean (as) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Eddie Khan (b) Anthony Williams (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 30, 1963

Music

In the early Sixties a group of like-minded musicians in the Blue Note stable  – Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson – were given space to develop their answer to the “new thing”. –  hip intelligent  listening music. Sensing the same change in direction, starting with his 1961 album Let Freedom Ring, Jackie McLean left behind his hard bop home for a series of Blue Note albums of a more free modal approach, while still retaining his melodic invention and acidic rapid-fire voice. The title One Step Beyond continues the direction of “Out” – far out, introducing other players like Moncur and Hutcherson to loosen up the texture and structure.

Allmusic awarded One Step Beyond 5 stars:

One Step Beyond may have been the first volley McLean fired in the direction of the new jazz, and played it safe enough to ride out the hard bop he helped to create, but he cannot be faulted as a bandleader, as this music still sounds fresh, vital, and full of grainy mystery

I chose  as selection the slightly more mainstream Saturday Sunday, in which the McLean Express is running full steam ahead under control of train driver Anthony Williams. His percussive artistry here is mesmerizing: sparks flying in all directions, relentless beats, off-beats, accents, rolls,  and all that before he gets to the solo. Free-swinging, without being free, he dances and swings like hell, you have to swing your head side to side to ground the metre, to absorb it all and keep it incoming. Williams final brief solo is just the icing on the cake

There is plenty of darker and more challenging stuff among the other tracks, to please the beardiewierdies, whose favourite tracks will be Ghost Town, and Frankenstein.

What ever happened to Jackie McLean? Wasn’t that him in the Die Hard films?  In 1967 his long association with Blue Note was terminated by Liberty. He embarked on touring, recording for Steeplechase, finally moving into a long career in music education.

:
Vinyl: BLP 4137 NY labels DG side 1 only, mono VAN GELDER and ear.

The great cover photo of Mclean, serious of purpose, has Jackie  searching “out there” to the horizon from a high vantage point, underlining the idea of the ” far out” direction of the music. McLean is still the “brand” but something different is happening. A pity the manufacturing quality of Blue Note covers also started in a new direction – down. Gone are the glorious laminates of previous years.

Typography note:” one step beyond / jackie mcLean ” – all lower case except the “L” – Reid Miles always keeps you on your Toes.

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Wrong cover of course – it is for the stereo while the LP is mono. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. It could be worse – it could be the other way around. You wonder how this sort of swap-over happens? Unless its a batch mismatch, someone else has the converse.

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Collectors Corner

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Source: Ebay

Not a record that hard to find, I have seen it quite a few times on the shelves (though not in mismatched cover) , nor does it attract a price premium. Early Sixties avant-leaning Blue Notes are great music and great value, under-appreciated compared with the warhorse collectables of the  Blue Note 1500 series. (Try finding an affordable Lee Morgan original, or Sonny Clark! The Land of the Rising Yen has got it covered.) They are often showcases for artists other than the leader, as in this case with Anthony Willams, as McLean takes on the role of aggregator of other talents rather than as the traditional grandstanding leader.

All I have to do now is find a matching pair – mono cover, with a stereo edition inside.

15 thoughts on “Jackie McLean: One Step Beyond (1963) Blue Note

  1. Hi Andy:

    Just revisited this thread for some reason and wanted to briefly comment on the cover (stereo) / record (mono) mismatch of your copy of One Step Beyond.

    As you (and the rest of the LJC crew) are probably already aware of, cover / record mismatches were exceedingly common in the mono/stereo period of the recording era (between 1958, when the stereos kicked in, and 1968 when the monos kicked the bucket). The decade during which the two formats overlapped seems to have created a cosmic confusion and brain haze on part of the recording executives. Some of them, like those from Specialty records, apparently DID NOT KNOW what “stereo” actually meant and applied the stereo banner and/or stickers liberally and indiscriminately all over their mono releases, leaving collectors dazed and confused to the present day.

    There are typically five (count ’em!) reasons for such mismatches:

    – Label incompetence and labor indifference. When you have a combination of executive cheapsterism, corporate incompetence, labor unions’ subterfuge and plain indifference to the quality and consistency of your product (which, in the Dickensian capitalism’s world of recording industry is, like, always), this is what you typically get. The first and honorary mention and the Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in this category goes to Vee Jay records, the Grand Doyenne of the recording industry’s incompetence. I reckon that well in excess of 30% – possibly as many as 50% – of Vee Jay’s entire product was a mismatch or a flat-out mislabel or mistake of some sort (not only covers — the company managed to screw up the labels, the matrices, the sleeve slicks, the inner sleeves and any conceivable combination thereof you can possibly imagine), which is why EVERY title EVER pressed by Vee Jay (EVEN THE LATER, 1980s, INCARNATION OF THE LABEL!) should be approached with the perfectly legitimate assumption that something about it is either misleading or flat-out wrong. Vee Jay actually managed to label “stereo” the titles THEY NEVER PRODUCED IN TRUE STEREO and even the titles that were never produced in ANY kind of stereo — whether “true” or “electronic” . But they were far from alone. Scepter/Wand, Amy, Big Top, Bang/Shout, Chess/Checker and myriads of other – typically smaller, indie labels – also fall into this category.

    – Cost-cutting, corner-cutting and the general need to reduce overhead. Sometimes, the recording label would simply recycle the batch manufactured earlier (typically mono) and affixed stereo labels to the mono cover and (less often) vice-versa; hypothetically, this was all fine and dandy, but the problem arose when someone at the printing or packaging facility simply forgot (or did not care to) actually affix the correct format label to the cover, or = worse yet = when the cheap glue used for this purpose allowed the label to fall off, leaving a confusing format mismatch between the disc and the cover.

    – Thirdly, as is the case with Blue Note (though not necessarily in this particular instance), the acquisition of one recording label by another came with the new parent company’s physical acquisition of the existing batch of printed covers and/or discs, and the new parent company would immediately move to offset acquisition- and production costs by using as much of the grandfathered assets as possible, irrespective of whether those actually matched the new product component or not. I know of multiple (post-1966) Liberty pressings of Blue Note’s pre-1966 titles which came in old, pre-Liberty covers, with or without “stereo” stickers. Herbie Hancock’s ‘Inventions and Dimensions” comes to mind, but there are tens of other similar examples. I am sure LJC readers are aware of many similar cases.

    – Fourthly, we have those cases where the format of the cover was determined during the physical construction of the cover by maneuvering the paper slick up and down by a fraction of an inch, thus either revealing (the desired) or covering (the undesired) format on the front panel (mid-60’s Prestige pressings come to mind). The problem with such covers was that the manipulation of the paper slick at the printing facility was often shoddy and inadequate, or – more often – that the construction of the cover itself was such that it was not folded properly , more often than not revealing BOTH stereo and mono formats on the same panel. Various Prestiges…Atlantics…Riversides, etc….all fall into this category.

    – Finally, we have those quirky 1968-1969 promo-only mono releases, for which nobody actually cared to produced “dedicated” (pun intended) mono covers. But this is entirely different animal altogether. This scenario is applicable ONLY to the rare promo-only mono releases packaged in stereo covers; there is no corresponding promo-only stereo scenario.

    Your reaction to the mismatch was perfectly rational and grounded in common sense. This definitely ain’t something worth slashing wrists for. Sleep peacefully, you have The Real Thing. Certiified by Bob Djukic Himself.

  2. Another timely post. Over the w/e I was playing Moncur’s EVOLUTION — a terrifically under-rated record — and it wasn’t until a little research revealed it that I was even aware that this had much of the same line-up. I don’t have this or DESTINATION OUT but will seek them…out. In the meantime I shall have to satisfy myself with the mysterioso charms of EVOLUTION.

  3. “At last!” I thought, at last LJC has branched out to 1980’s ska-pop… imagine my disappointment.

      • Very good – it took a moment of “madness” for me to “get it”. I need to get out more.

        (Speaking of getting out more, I shall be enjoying watching Chick Corea and The Vigil tomorrow night at the Nice Jazz Festival. That qualifies as “out more”)

        • I live next door to Marciac, so I’ll probably go and see Wayne Shorter in a few weeks during the festival. Not sure he still has his chops, but it’s rather like going to see god, how can I refuse?

          • Jazz a Juan has Shorter this year – I should go! The Pinedes are a better setting than Albert 1ier here in Nice. We have just had earth Wind and Fire. Whoa! I really used to enjoy NJF at Cimiez. It’s great to see these people at least once. Marciac in August – Midi-Pyrénées region – Shorter must be having a European Tour. Where better? France.

    • To me, this one is just a notch below the next one (Destination Out), which sports the same line-up and a very similar program (the two albums are for all practical purposes Blue Note ‘siamese twins’). I could not put a finger on why I prefer ‘Destination Out’, but I would say that it sounds a little more “far out” and adventurous and a little less structured. But this is just my personal judgment.

      • I have the same. Roy Haynes is drumming on Destination Out. He’s my favorite drummer. So maybe that makes a difference. And I also prefer the tracks on Destination Out.

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