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It's Time (1964)

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Herbie Hancock

Recorded in 1964, Jackie McLean's It's Time was only available on CD in the United States as part of a four-disc Mosaic set of his complete Blue Note recordings between 1964-1966. The band here includes trumpeter Charles Tolliver, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Cecil McBee, and drummer Roy Haynes. The music was written entirely by either Tolliver or McLean and walks the line between modal post-bop and free jazz. It came hot on the heels of McLean's first forays into these waters on 1963's One Step Beyond and Destination Out!. There is more to it than that, of course; chordal improvisation still plays a large part in the music on this fine record. Hancock's solo on the opening "Cancellation" is the most angular thing here, and the tempo is simply breathtaking. McLean's butt funky "Das' Dat," which follows, owes a debt to Horace Silver to be sure, but the blues element, which is in the tune's head, is pure Jackie McLean. McLean's own playing isn't particularly adventurous, though he pushes his tone to the limits at times. He swings tough with the hard bop sensibility that put him on the label in the first place, and "Das' Dat" is the most enjoyable thing here. The knotty head in the title cut is killer, with Tolliver and McLean going head to head and charging out of the gate, and the blues return in "'Snuff" by McLean. Here again is a complex, winding head for the horns in call-and-response with Hancock -- lean, spirited and full of crackling energy. Tolliver's solo in the cut is his best on the disc. Given that this has been issued as part of Blue Note's Connoisseur Series, it's a limited edition that won't be available for long. Just get it. ~ Thom Jurek