Friday, January 26, 2018

Eric Dolphy - 1999 - The Illinois Concert

Eric Dolphy
The Illinois Concert

01. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise 20:17
02. Something Sweet, Something Tender 1:28
03. God Bless The Child 8:45
04. South Street Exit 7:30
05. Iron Man 10:57
06. Red Planet 12:26
07. G.W. 7:40

Bass – Eddie Khan
Drums – J.C. Moses
Flute, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – Eric Dolphy
Piano – Herbie Hancock

Recorded live at the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL on March 10, 1963.

Special thanks are extended to jazz radio producer Brian Sanders, who saved the tapes, and to Dolphy expert Alan Saul who arranged for its release.

The 1999 discovery of a previously unknown 1963 concert by Eric Dolphy makes it one of the finds of the decade. Taped for broadcast at the University of Illinois at Champaign, it was mentioned in an Eric Dolphy Internet chat room and eventually relayed to producer Michael Cuscuna. The sound is very good, except for overly prominent drums throughout the concert and an under-miked flute on "South Street Exit." Dolphy's playing is consistently rewarding, including a lengthy workout of "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," a miniature of "Something Sweet, Something Tender," and his always superb solo feature of "God Bless the Child." He switches to alto sax for an adventurous new work, "Iron Man" (which he would record a few months later for Douglas International), also inserting a hilarious quote of "Comin' Through the Rye." A 23-year-old Herbie Hancock on piano, Eddie Locke on bass, and drummer J. C. Moses make up the solid rhythm section. The last two tracks, "Red Planet" and Dolphy's "G.W.," add the support of the University of Illinois Brass Ensemble, which included a young Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet. Highly recommended!- ~ Ken Dryden

If you're new to Eric Dolphy, don't start here. Go buy The Complete Eric Dolphy and Booker Little Live at the Five Spot, Out to Lunch and one of the albums he did with Charles Mingus, like Mingus at Antibes or Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. And one of the albums he did with Coltrane- I'd recommend Ole.

Anyway, if you've got the basics and are looking to expand this is a fascinating addition to your collection. Herbie Hancock on piano, an epic, oblique workout on Softly as a Morning Sunrise, a version of Red Planet (aka Miles Mode on Coltrane's albums) done with the University Woodwind Ensemble and, as a closer, G.W done with the university marching band! It's pretty cool.

I knocked a star off because the sound quality, while as good as can be expected from a 1964 college radio broadcast restored with 1999 audio technology, is still a bit bootleggy. South Street Exit is the only song that's substandard--Eric's flute is way off mike. Otherwise you get used to it pretty quickly, and the music is so amazing it more than compensates for the less than pristine, studio-quality sound.



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