As the title suggests, there is little about this disc that would constitute a safe approach to jazz. But then, alto man Jackie McLean never was one to take the easy path. The adventurousness of this set from 1963 hints of the changing scene at the time and McLean makes a bold statement here. Included in the adventure are the daring Grachan Moncur III, the equally confident Bobby Hutcherson, and the enterprising Roy Haynes. In all, this makes for a wild ride that opens the door to a new world of possibilities.
The last of the Jackie McLean Prestige sessions, this LP has material from two different sets, but fortunately, the music is on a higher level than one might expect of "leftovers." "Strange Blues" is from a marathon quartet set that McLean had with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Arthur Phipps, and drummer Art Taylor, as is a rendition of "What's New" that is an alternate version to the one included on Makin' the Changes. In addition, "Disciples Love Affair" and "Millie's Pad" match McLean with the tuba of Ray Draper (who contributed both songs), trumpeter Webster Young, pianist John Meyers, bassist Bill Salter, and drummer Larry Ritchie, while the incomplete "Not So Strange Blues" is all McLean on an explosive blues with the rhythm section. A generally strong set chiefly recommended to Jackie McLean completists.
This 1980 recording released for the first time – "Formidable" from a 1959 session and five numbers from a 1963 McLean set. While "Formidable" has a strong quintet (with altoist Jackie McLean, trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Walter Davis, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Pete La Roca), the 1963 session has the recording debut of drummer Tony Williams along with strong contributions from Byrd, pianist Herbie Hancock (then also near the beginning of his career), and bassist Butch Warren. The latter unit sticks to group originals by Byrd, Hancock, and McLean, and the music ranges from catchy funk and hard bop to strong hints of the avant-garde.