Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eric Dolphy - 1963 - Conversations

Eric Dolphy 
1963 
Conversations


01. Jitterbug Waltz 7:05
02. Music Matador 9:05
03. Alone Together 13:30
04. Love Me 3:25

Track 1
Eric Dolphy - Flute
Woody Shaw - Trumpet
Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes
Eddie Khan - Bass
J.C. Moses - Drums

Track 2
Eric Dolphy - Bass Clarinet
Prince Lasha - Flute
Sonny Simmons - Alto Sax
Clifford Jordan - Soprano Sax
Richard Davis - Bass
Charles Moffett - Drums

Track 3
Eric Dolphy - Alto Sax

Track 4
Eric Dolphy - Bass Clarinet
Richard Davis - Bass



Re-released in 1964 as The Eric Dolphy Memorial Album

In mid-1963 (probably July, though some sources place the dates in May or June), Eric Dolphy recorded some sessions in New York with producer Alan Douglas, the fruits of which were issued on small labels as the LPs Conversations and Iron Man. They've been reissued a number of times on various labels, occasionally compiled together, but never with quite the treatment they deserve (which is perhaps why they're not as celebrated as they should be). In whatever form, though, it's classic, essential Dolphy that stands as some of his finest work past Out to Lunch. Conversations is the more eclectic of the two, featuring radical re-imaginings of three standards, plus the jubilant, Caribbean-flavored "Music Matador" (by ensemble members Prince Lasha [flute] and Sonny Simmons [alto]). That cut and a classic inside/outside reworking of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" feature Dolphy leading ensembles of up-and-coming "new thing" players, which prominently feature vibist Bobby Hutcherson and trumpeter Woody Shaw. The second half of the album takes a far more minimalist approach, with Dolphy performing unaccompanied (extremely rare prior to Anthony Braxton's For Alto) on "Love Me." "Alone Together" is an over-13-minute duet between Dolphy and bassist Richard Davis, featuring some astoundingly telepathic exchanges that more than justify its length. Even if the selections don't completely hang together as an LP statement, they're united by Dolphy's generally brilliant playing and a sense that -- after several years without entering the studio much as a leader -- Dolphy was really striving to push his (and others') music forward. The results are richly rewarding, making Conversations one of the landmarks in his catalog. 


Conversations reveals Eric Dolphy during a transitional period in his development as a band leader. This semi-obscure album, released on the short-lived FM label (and reissued after his untimely death as The Eric Dolphy Memorial Album), features Dolphy's first studio collaborations with bassist Richard Davis, and the results are immediate. Davis' elastic runs create more space for Dolphy and his bandmates to improvise. This widely varied album has two completely different sides. Side One features a larger group (including vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson), and both tracks are rather jaunty. Dolphy's selection of "Music Matador" is a bit of a head-scratcher and is almost cheesy save for a solid bass clarinet solo. Side Two is where Dolphy earns his paycheck. "Love Me" is a brief, but dynamic solo performance, arguably the best one he ever recorded. This is followed by the awe-inspiring "Along Together," which is an unusual low-end duet between Dolphy (on bass clarinet) and Davis. At times, Dolphy's woodwind imitates the droning sounds of the didgeridoo. Due to the rather bifurcated nature of the album, it is not as splendid as the other LP to eventually arise from these sessions, Iron Man. Because of the haunting, explosive, introspective nature of the Side Two material, it was easily his best solo studio album to date at the time of its release.

In 1963 (probably July, though some sources place the dates in May or June), Eric Dolphy recorded some sessions in New York with producer Alan Douglas, the fruits of which were issued on small labels as the LPs Conversations and Iron Man. They've been reissued a number of times on various labels, occasionally compiled together, but never with quite the treatment they deserve (which is perhaps why they're not as celebrated as they should be). In whatever form, though, it's classic, essential Dolphy that stands as some of his finest work past Out to Lunch. Conversations is the more eclectic of the two, featuring radical re-imaginings of three standards, plus the jubilant, Caribbean-flavored "Music Matador" (by ensemble members Prince Lasha on flute and Sonny Simmons on alto). That cut, and a classic inside/outside reworking of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" feature Dolphy leading ensembles of up-and-coming "new thing" players, which prominently feature vibist Bobby Hutcherson and trumpeter Woody Shaw. The second half of the album takes a far more minimalist approach, with Dolphy performing unaccompanied (extremely rare prior to Anthony Braxton's For Alto) on "Love Me." "Alone Together" is an over-13-minute duet between Dolphy and bassist Richard Davis, featuring some astoundingly telepathic exchanges that more than justify its length. Even if the selections don't completely hang together as an LP statement, they're united by Dolphy's generally brilliant playing and a sense that -- after several years without entering the studio much as a leader -- Dolphy was really striving to push his (and others') music forward. The results are richly rewarding, making Conversations one of the landmarks in his catalog.

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