Out of the Blue

They Still Make 'Em That Way Anymore

Out of the Blue's first album, recorded and released last year, has been called one of the best jazz records of the 1960's. And the young cooperative sextet has been called the Monkees of jazz.

Neither of these descriptions is entirely fair, although they're both pretty funny. But both contain an element of truth.

It's certainly true that the members of Out of the Blue (OTB for short), like numerous other young musicians these tradition-conscious days, spend a lot of time in a hard-driving post-bop modal groove. The style was developed a couple of decades or so ago by musicians who recorded for the Blue Note label - which is, not coincidentally, OTB's home.

As for the Monkees analogy, the fact is that OTB didn't exactly take shape organically. The folks at the born-again Blue Note decided they wanted a brand new group consisting of hotshot youngsters. A series of auditions yielded the six players who ended up getting packaged as OTB.

Trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman acknowledges that OTB owes a heavy stylistic debt to an earlier generation of jazz musicians. That's inevitable, he says, given that all the members are still finding their own voices. He also acknowledges the way the band came together was a bit unusual. But he notes that all of the members of OTB, except Canadian-born tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen, had previously worked together in various combinations in other bands - and they quickly discovered they were very comfortable being one. (At this writing, though, there are likely to be some personnel changes. Two of the original OTB members have offers of steadier work elsewhere.)

The group recorded its debut album quickly, Mossman says. A brand-new second effort "will represent a higher level of unity.

"And by the third album, things should get really wild."

Peter Keepnews
September 1986