Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eric Dolphy - 1964 - At The Five Spot Volume 2

Eric Dolphy 
At The Five Spot Volume 2

01. Agression 17:23
02. Like Somebody In Love 19:59

Bonus Tracks on CD
03. Number Eight (Potsa Lotsa) 15:33
04. Booker's Waltz 14:39

Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Eddie Blackwell
Flute, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy
Piano – Mal Waldron
Trumpet – Booker Little

Recorded July 16, 1961

The band featured here (Dolphy, Mal Waldron on piano, Richard Davis on bass, Ed Blackwell on drums, trumpeter Booker Little) seems to click better than some of Dolphy's other small ensembles. Everyone seems firmly attached to the 'strange but catchy' aesthetic, in that no matter how 'out' the music gets, elements rooted in 'bop' remain for the listener to latch onto. Granted, that loose definition could apply to a number of post-bop jazz records from the early 60s, but even within post-bop the man has his own unique style.

"Aggression" unquestionably has to be one of the high points of Dophy's career. He's an absolute beast during his solo, his bass clarinet hiccuping and squealing and buzzing throughout the lower registers, then after a bit he finds new ways to shriek melodically in the higher registers. Following this, Waldron realizes he can't possibly compete with Little's or Dolphy's speed/invention so he takes a COMPLETELY different approach and manages to be just as exciting. He starts with some simple chord phrasing, then his left hand starts repeatedly climbing up the same keys while his right hand sticks to the same four or five notes - but he's determined to hit every combination of these notes, changing the order, attacking them in different ways, then finally he moves onto another cluster and gets more and more angry as he goes along. Davis and Blackwell get into the aggressive spirit too and their solos are, if not as interesting, just as energetic as Little/Dolphy/Waldron.

On side B, "Like Someone in Love" isn't is great (how could it be?), though the beginning definitely exemplifies Dolphy's approach to covering standards. They play the head as freely as they can without completely losing sight of the melody. Blackwell sits out, Davis' bass strays from the chordal structure right away, Little is the only one sticking to what's written (MOST of the time, not all), while Dolphy (on flute) harmonizes beautifully at the beginning but soon starts to play his own fractured ideas, separate from everyone else. Overall, it's a bit more on the ordinary side and the solos aren't as incredible (though Dolphy gets in some fine moments) but still a nice tune.

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