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4.5 out of 5 stars
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2004
I have to admit my jazz collection is quite slim and most of it predates the 1950's but I love the music on 'Out To Lunch'. Like others have contested, this is not free-jazz, much of the music opens with a melody line no matter how angular and dissonant before each member gets a chance to improvise. The opening 'Hat and Beard' (a tribute to Thelonious Monk) sets the tone for the rest of the album, the track roots itself in its synchopated beginning before leaping off into some interesting solos including a great one by vibist Bobby Hutcherson. Rhythm section Davis and Williams aren't so 'free' here maintaining an elegant groove. On 'Something Sweet, Something Tender', Hubbard sounds almost conservative, his playing evoking memories of 50's bop. There's some wonderful improvised bass by Richard Davis (also heard on Van Morrison's criticaly acclaimed 'Astral Weeks') and then Dolphy enters flouting all his exhuberance on clarinet. 'Gazzelloni' begins like the movie theme from an architypal 60's film, with a foot-tapping rhythm that again challenges the notion that this is a free-jazz album. There's some remarkable interplay between Hutcherson and Williams as they flow behind Dolphy's flute and Hubbard's trumpet. Hubbard comes to the fore again on 'Out To Lunch' where his trumpet runs like a bumble bee after Dolphy's bird-flying alto-sax solo. For a moment the rhythm breaks into a pounding monotone, then a bass flourish before the drums take us back to the original melody. Then comes the final drunken swagger of 'Straight Up And Down' where Hubbard's playing is almost conventional above the rhythm section indulging themselves, while Hutcherson goes on another flamboyant run, demonstrating what this album encapsulates most, an unrestrained sense of playfulness.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2001
I have to redress the balance of the other review and bump up the star ratings. This is a CLASSIC and unmissable album, whose sound is still unique today. Despite the 'free'ish jazz, there is a very tight structure and plan to each track. This contradiction is what draws me to Dolphy's music. The second track 'Something Sweet, Something Tender' includes a brilliant inter-change between Dolphy and a bowed bass. This is music of the very highest standard and show-cases the individuality of Dolphy as a composer and soloist. It doesn't fall into any known category, so is as likely to appeal to a modern classical fan as a jazz fan.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2001
Out to Lunch! is one of the most important jazz albums of the 1960s. The clarity of the recording, the individual space accorded each instrument, the meticulous attention to the nuances, the refined texture of the overall sound, the sheer presence of each recorded moment - these were the hallmarks of its sound.
The coming together of Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis and Tony Williams on Out to Lunch! was a momentous event. Dolphy had made a clutch of records for Prestige in the years leading up to this record, the most significant probably being the famous Five Spot live sessions with Booker Little that would promise so much but be cut short by Little's death from uraemia. Out to Lunch! was to be his single, most unsettling masterpiece.
It's not an easy album to become fond of. It insinuates melodies before it cuts them short, it ruthlessly breaks up harmony into fragments and it stretches the limits of tonality to extremes, but perhaps its triumph is that it brings swing into a new era. By giving Davis and Williams space and freedom, Dolphy let swing become a by-product of interaction, not a conscious contrivance. The rhythmic complexity of the record knew no precedent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 14 July 2011
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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 March 2011
Probably the best single recording Eric Dolphy ever made, 'Out To Lunch' is perhaps not the place to start with Dolphy. In particular, if you're looking to understand Dolphy's impact as a soloist, particularly on alto sax, or to follow his evolution, look elsewhere. The reason is quite simple: here, Dolphy is absolutely the finished article, and so completely integrated into the ensemble sound that even when he's the featured player what's happening around him is just as important. The calibre of the other musicians is important here: Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Richard Davies (bass) and Tony Williams (drums) are perfect partners in this music.

All the compositions on 'Out To Lunch' are Dolphy's, and as a result the session has a homogeneity of sound and conception that is unmatched elsewhere. The group sound is unique: a pianoless quintet in which vibist Hutcherson supplies the missing harmonic glue while keeping the music open and spacious. The tunes are challenging, angular and rhythmically dislocated, and yet this is recognisably jazz, right down to the humour, albeit jazz informed by Dolphy's understanding of twentieth-century classical music.

Stand-out tracks are 'Hat and Beard' and 'Gazzelloni', but the album deserves to be heard as a whole. Challenging and rewarding pretty well in equal measure, 'Out To Lunch' was recorded in 1964 and still sounds absolutely fresh in 2011.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Make sure you do some reading up on Eric Dolphy before you buy this. Don't expect to hear anything resembling the winning Blue Note hard bop formula characteristic of the fifities and sixties. As far as Jazz goes this is way ahead of it's time, those who know the contemporary Jazz scene will know that there are plenty of acts out there who try and sound exactly like what you hear on this record.

OK, it's not easy listening. For me Dolphy's compositions are no way near as compelling as some of Ornette Colman's for example. It's quirky, mysterious, it has you scratching your chin trying to figure it all out. "Gazzelloni," starts off as very accessible before disappearing into some great flute loops. Add to that William's nuerotic sounding drums and it makes for interesting listening. Freddie Hubbard holds the record up in terms of his melodic contribution. Hutcheron's style of playing naturally leads to what Dolphy was trying to achieve on this record, the music heads down plenty of alleyways. I'm not going to tell lies, I only dig this out now and again when nobody else is around and give it a listen. It's challenging and gives an indicator of what would happen a lot lot later.
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This is often considered a classic of the Jazz genre I put it on to see why and I can see why Eric dolphy manages to nick elements of different types of jazz including free kind and push it in to his playing so as not to be overly obscure but to add a hint of difference to his playing Not only tat but he chose to have a Vibraphone instead of a piano too because he feels it is more freeing and I have to agree with him. The music on this album is exciting but it is also Memorable there are some fine solos too
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on 30 November 2014
A great fusion of melody and free jazz - just the ticket for me. This is the first time I have listened to Eric Dolby - I bought the record on a whim - and I am impressed - this record will get a lot of airtime in my house... Added bonus is the weight and quality of the vinyl - heavy duty to say the least, which I think really helps bring out the quality of the sound on my hi-fi..
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on 2 February 2009
If you only try one Dolphy album in your collection, this must be it. Undoubtedly avant garde and requiring your attention, but this is Dolphy at his best with every track providing exciting solos on top of a robust structure. This is also a good introduction to the work of Bobby Hutcherson.
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on 14 May 2015
I definitely have to be in the right mood to listen to this one, but it is an absolute monster.
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