Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ken McIntyre and Eric Dolphy - 1960 - Looking Ahead

Ken McIntyre and Eric Dolphy 
Looking Ahead

01. Lautir
02. Curtsy
03. Geo's Tune
04. They All Laughed
05. Head Shakin'
06. Dianna

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Ken McIntyre
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Sam Jones
Cover – Esmond Edwards
Drums – Arthur Taylor
Piano – Walter Bishop, Jr.

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; June 28, 1960.

It was quite fitting that Ken McIntyre had an opportunity to record in a quintet with Eric Dolphy, for his multi-instrumental approach was similar to Dolphy's, although he always had a very different sound. On this CD reissue, McIntyre plays alto on four tunes and flute on two others (his work on bassoon, oboe, and bass clarinet would come slightly later), while Dolphy mostly plays alto but doubles on flute on one number and switches to bass clarinet for "Dianna." With pianist Walter Bishop, Jr., bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor offering concise solos and swinging support, McIntyre somehow almost holds his own with Dolphy on a variety of originals and George Gershwin's "They All Laughed." A very interesting date.

We have here a meeting of two great multi-instrumentalists, Eric Dolphy and Ken McIntyre. Dolphy is of course the one we all know and love and for everyone who loves him, this is a classic, quite little known but fantastic session well worth picking up. And he is in great, cutting form as usual, mostly on alto (3 tracks) and flute and bass clarinet.
Ken McIntyre is more of an unknown. Also a giant multi-instrumentalist, McIntyre plays only alto sax and flute here, but later on would pick up the bass clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. His solos graced Cecil Taylor's brilliant, Unit Structures some years later. To his credit here, he sounds nothing like Dolphy though! You know, sometimes on Johnny Griffin's A Blowing Session, it's hard to distinguish between Griffin and Trane (and sometimes even Mobley! ) But not here... these two are very different, and together they sound great on the ensemble sections.
Five of the six songs are McIntyre originals. Most of them are nice, and surprisingly quirky and memorable. They're all medium to fast tempo, with a nice light swing thanks to the top rhythm section of Walter Bishop (piano), Sam Jones (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). and of course Dolphy and McIntyre just cut things up!
McIntyre is slower, dryer, and more careful that Dolphy who spins and jumps all over with his unique, loopy, bee-buzzing-in-a-jar style. But, McIntyre does some interesting things, and takes some tricky chances. One shouldn't downplay his contribution to this disk at all. Check out his solo on the last song, Dianna. His playing is gritty and experimental before giving way to Dolphy who rolls and sings notes on the flute.
Overall, it's a great album. McIntyre is a very underrecorded voice so this album is somewhat essential. He sounds fresh and different throughout. And for Dolphy fans, this is of course essential. It won't be in constant rotation on your record player, but it's a good find.

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