Out to Lunch! was Eric Dolphy's only recording for Blue Note Records as a leader and was originally issued as BLP 4163 and BST 84163. Today it is generally considered one of the finest albums in the label's history, as well as one of the high points in 1960s jazz avant garde and in Dolphy's discography.
Tony Williams had turned eighteen a few months (75 days) before this recording, and is listed as "Anthony Williams" on the album cover.
The title of the album's first track, "Hat and Beard", refers to Thelonious Monk; the song contains a famous percussive interlude featuring Tony Williams and Bobby Hutcherson. "Something Sweet, Something Tender" includes a noteworthy duet between Richard Davis on bass and Dolphy on bass clarinet. The third composition, "Gazzelloni", was named after classical flautistSeverino Gazzelloni, but is otherwise the album's most conventional, bop-based theme. The second side features two long pieces for alto saxophone: the title track, and "Straight Up and Down", intended, according to the original liner notes, to evoke a drunken stagger.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" and awarded it a "crown", stating, "If it is a masterpiece, then it is not so much a flawed as a slightly tentative masterpiece." The album was identified by Chris Kelsey in his Allmusic essay "Free Jazz: A Subjective History" as one of the 20 Essential Free Jazz Albums.
All compositions by Eric Dolphy.
- "Hat and Beard" – 8:24
- "Something Sweet, Something Tender" – 6:02
- "Gazzelloni" – 7:22
- "Out to Lunch" – 12:06
- "Straight Up and Down" – 8:19