Unlike a fellow reviewer, I don`t think of this as `cool` jazz at all. Eric Dolphy was a one-off, individual presence in 60s jazz, who made lyrically astute, surprisingly warm, playfully cerebral music, which reaches a kind of apotheosis on this wonderful, endlessly fascinating 1964 recording. His choice of sidemen is triumphantly apt for the occasion: sensitive, witty vibes player Bobby Hutcherson (whose own gorgeous album "Oblique" I could never recommend too highly), ubiquitous trumpeter Freddie Hubbard - who should have recieved an award simply for his services to jazz - the muscular, restive bass of Richard Davis and, perfect choice, the ever-alert, inventive Tony Williams on drums.
I confess I hadn`t played Out To Lunch for some while. Hearing it again has been little short of a major revelation. Not only does the band as an entity embody the spirit of this music with flair and anything but po-faced aplomb, it accompanies Dolphy on a musical journey that sounds at once both uncharted and pre-ordained.
Eric Dolphy (1928-64, of diabetes) has something of a reputation as an intellectual loner in the landscape of 60s jazz, but listening to this restlessly warm-hearted music one has to wonder why. He was courted by both Mingus & Coltrane, and did fine work for them, but the proof of the pudding...quite plainly, when all is said and done, Dolphy was a musician (heard here on alto sax, flute & bass clarinet) who obviously ached to communicate, and who put little between himself & the listener other than a keen intelligence and a refusal to talk down.
There`s not a track, nor a single moment, on this captivating, timeless disc that will not repay many hearings; a vital link in the flexible mutation from the more traditional mainstream of jazz to what we now, rather superficially, call Modern Jazz. But forget labels. Listen...
This is classic jazz. A great album. Do, please, hear it.