Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eric Dolphy - 1964 - Out To Lunch

Eric Dolphy 
1964 
Out To Lunch


01. Hat And Beard 8:21
02. Something Sweet, Something Tender 6:01
03. Gazzelloni 7:18
04. Out To Lunch 12:05
05. Straight Up And Down 8:18

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Anthony Williams
Trumpet – Freddie Hubbard
Vibraphone – Bobby Hutcherson

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; February 25, 1964.


Eric Dolphy is one of the most infamous/influential figures in the history of jazz. His brand of jazz was not rooted in blues but in classical music, hence his compositions and his playing technique taking on a more angular approach. As a result, he was criticized for not being "jazz enough" and the music being too sophisticated. Regardless of the criticism, Dolphy created a new identity of jazz: One that blends steady/catchy rhythms with highly abstracted harmony and melody (extremely difficult for musicians to do.) Out to Lunch is perhaps his most fully realized effort.

Out to Lunch is considered to be a masterpiece of jazz music, specifically in avant-garde jazz. In close introspection, it isn't as avant-garde, as say for example, John Coltrane's Om or Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures. Its avant-garde nature is more along the lines of Andrew Hill's Judgement! and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come. It's a cusp record: It straddles between avant-garde and tonal bebop harmony, which gave Out to Lunch its reputation and legacy.

But, as with the majority of avant-garde music, it can be challenging to get into at first. In standard avant-garde/experimental fare, you'll need to put down your conceptions of music, have an open mind, and listen to it to see if it resonates or not.

On to the music itself, the album opens with what may be the most famous composition on here, "Hat and Beard." This is Dolphy's tribute to jazz legend Thelonious Monk (Monk had a distinctive appearance, as he was known to wear sunglasses, hats, and a beard to go with it. Hence, Hat and Beard.) Right away, the composition starts with a somewhat odd rhythm with brief flashes of vibraphones and a rolling bassline. After a few moments, the main theme is introduced.* In standard Dolphy language, the theme is disorienting but melodic enough to follow the sense of rhythm and swing in the composition. After the theme comes the solos. Dolphy breaks into his style of improvisation: Wide intervals, replete with rapid runs and trills in between, laced with animal-like effects, such as squawking, honking, bleeting, and many more I could mention. These techniques give Dolphy's sound a more light-hearted, humorous feel to it.
After comes Freddie Hubbard, who in contrast to Dolphy's solo, has a more serious sounding solo filled with runs and trills but without the animal effects.
Next is Bobby Hutcherson. His solo is rather unique since he is contrasting with Tony Williams.
(To detract quickly, the effect of their playing sounds reminds me of the sounds of raindrops, with Williams' thin, scratchy attacks and Hutcherson's full-on chordal attacks going against each other.)
We're now back to the theme once more, and after one more reiteration of the bridge, the piece closes out with Dolphy's bass clarinet fading out.

The next piece is "Something Sweet, Something Tender".
The shortest piece on the album, this is perhaps the most rhythmically free piece on here. In the introduction, Dolphy takes a more ballad-like melody (albeit in his style) backed up by Richard Davis' bowed bass, giving a somewhat intense feel to it. After the intro, everyone plays the theme. It has a meditative quality overall.
One noted aspect is Davis' bass. This is his spotlight, as he freely moves around while everyone else works around the theme.
Another noted aspect is Tony Williams' drums. For the most part, they are subdued to the background or they are absent.
The full band overall seem separated from each other and only come together in the theme. An interesting contrast to "Hat and Beard.

Next is "Gazzelloni". Named after the famed Italian flutist (whom Dolphy was among his pupils). The most bebop-like tune, this gets right to the point. A few hints of the theme appears, then quickly disintegrates into improvisation.
Here, Dolphy demonstrates his flute playing. This time, his animal-like sounds resemble the sounds of birds (very atonal ones, if you ask me).
The highlight of "Gazzelloni" is the interaction between Williams' shifting drum pulses and Hutcherson's rapid vibraphone runs.

Next is the title track. The longest track of the album, this is the most avant-garde piece. Dolphy switches to alto saxophone for this performance. Just about everyone here is off on their own tangent, yet keeping it together.
One highlight on here occurs about six minutes in, when the rhythm slows down and Hutcherson displays his virtuoso vibraphone playing. Again, Hutcherson and Williams provide an interesting contrast to each other, giving each other space while Davis fills in the cracks with his bass.
Then, Davis takes a bass solo. For a few split minutes, the atmosphere gets quiet as you focus on his bass, when suddenly, Dolphy comes crashing down, then Williams picks up the rhythm again, with Hubbard dropping in and out. After a brief drum solo, we head back to the main theme and the piece concludes.

The final piece is "Straight Up and Down." According to the liner notes, it is said that it's supposed to represent a drunken stagger (which can be said for the entire album). So in this respect, this is the most humorous piece of the album.
After a few iterations of the theme, Dolphy goes off, followed by Hubbard. Meanwhile in the rhythm, Williams is again shifting rhythms and pulses, Davis is in the distance, and Hutcherson fills in here and there, up front and in the background.
Towards the end, Hutcherson does his masterful fills while Williams slows down and speeds up, adding this feeling of thick texture slowly adding itself together (or collapsing, however you see it). The atmosphere gets quiet, then suddenly Dolphy and Hubbard explode with a five-note run with an added vibraphone hit. We're back to the theme. After a few iterations, the bass and drums fade out, with one final vibraphone hit and the piece (as well as the album) has concluded.

After the recording of Out to Lunch, Eric Dolphy went to Europe to tour with Charles Mingus in a widely acclaimed tour. Sadly, these concerts would turn out to be Dolphy's last ever, as he died of a diabetic coma at age 36, making Out to Lunch his last ever album. Eric Dolphy became one of the very many musicians who seemed to have died just as their music was starting to become fully realized, leaving us with a what-if scenario.

In conclusion, I rate Out to Lunch five stars. Its use of atypical harmonies, off-kilter melodies, revolving rhythms, and its use of tension, release, and dynamics is without a doubt a fascinating combination. What I really enjoy is the mixing of jazz with classical and avant-garde. As I mentioned earlier, making a composition or an album that is both catchy and experimental is a very difficult achievement for musicians, as it usually tends to be one or the other.
Because of Dolphy's death occuring soon afterwards, this is the highest of his achievements and we can only wonder was bound to be next.

Eric Dolphy - 1964 - At The Five Spot Volume 2

Eric Dolphy 
1964 
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.

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.

Eric Dolphy - 1962 - In Europe

Eric Dolphy 
1962
In Europe 


01. I Don't Know Why
02. God Bless The Child
03. The Way You Look Tonight
04. Oleo
05. Hi-Fly

Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Chuck Israels, Erik Moseholm
Drums – Jørn Elniff
Piano – Bent Axen

Recorded live at "Studenterföreningen", Copenhagen, Denmark on September 8th, 1961

The original Danish release Debut 136 issued the last take of "In the Blues" as "I Don't Know Why".

The complete set for the nite was later reissued in three volumes between 1964 and 1965, and later again in 2012 as Eric Dolphy Quartet In Europe. The Complete 1961 Copenhagen


In Europe, Vol. 1

01. Hi Fly
02. Glad To Be Unhappy
03. God Bless The Child
04. Oleo


In Europe, Vol. 2

01. Don't Blame Me
02. The Way You Look Tonight
03. Miss Ann
04. Laura


In Europe, Vol. 3

01. Woody'n You 10:20
02. When Lights Are Low
03. In The Blues (1-2-3)


Some revolutionaries are born, others are made. Ornette Coleman is one of the former: he just seemed to hear music in a different way to anybody else - he probably hummed to himself when he was a toddler in an Ornettety Coleman sort of way, or maybe like Jimmy Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story he knew there was a sound out there that was his and as soon as he made it he knew that that was that. Eric Dolphy, however, was one of the latter: he moved slowly, each week, each month, each year was part of a progress, an adventure, that step by step led into new territories, the discovery of new sounds. And, as with John Coltrane, this was a voyage that only ended with his death. In a way he was a more radical musician than Coleman in that his music was always part of a process of change, of overturning what he had done up to that point. In the late summer of 1961 Dolphy set off for Europe with his alto, flute and bass clarinet in his bag and played music with whoever he could find. On this album, in early September, he was in Copenhagen and teamed up with a local rhythm section. But travel limits the horizons and the locals had little understanding of where Dolphy was voyaging, so the emphasis is on Dolphy, the band providing a rather conservative background. (Which isn't to dismiss the Danish musicians, they are competent - I like the drummer best - it's just that they are not working on the same level of imaginative engagement.) But then the band are only on two of the four tracks. One of the others - God Bless the Child - is a bass clarinet solo. I find the bass clarinet a strange instrument, its tone is as rich as polished oak, but then, at least as played by jazz musicians, it acts like an excited Jack Russell terrier rushing around and if you give it half a chance trying to mate with your leg. I can never make up my mind how successful Dolphy's God Bless the Child is: sometimes I find it enormously impressive, imaginatively spring boarding from the original material through idea after idea, but at other times I just find it showy, a mass of tics and mannerisms - it's probably somewhere in the middle, but I'm unsure where. My favourite number is Hi Fly, a duet - Dolphy on flute - with Chuck Israels on bass. (Israels just happened to be in Copenhagen so sat in for the tune.) But Israels also seems conservative compared to Dolphy: his solo is good natured and relaxed, but amiable compared to Dolphy's adventureness - and throughout he seems to act as Dolphy's soberly suited straight man. It's all worth hearing but there is nothing to match Aggression recorded at the Five Spot a couple of months earlier.

Eric Dolphy With Booker Little - 1962 - Far Cry

Eric Dolphy With Booker Little 
1962 
Far Cry


01. Mrs. Parker Of K.C. 8:00
02. Ode To Charlie Parker 8:45
03. Far Cry 3:50
04. Miss Ann 4:15
05. Left Alone 6:40
06. Tenderly 4:15
07. It's Magic 5:35

Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Roy Haynes
Piano – Jaki Byard
Trumpet – Booker Little

Recorded: Dec. 21, 1960


In the early sixties, Eric Dolphy was one of the young rebels responsible for moving jazz forward in giant strides, advancements that led some to call his music “anti-jazz”. Although not quite as deliberately bizarre as Out to Lunch, Far Cry is still exactly that: a far cry from what virtually everyone considered jazz to be. On this session Dolphy is joined by two like-minded weirdos in Little and Byard, as well as an able rhythm section in Carter and Haynes (who benefit the most from the 20-bit remastering). Everything that we’ve come to love about Dolphy is on display here, from the unorthodox instruments to the stuttering, belligerent solos that seem to go from New York to LA by way of Saturn. Although the first two tracks bear titles that pay tribute to Charlie Parker, Dolphy mainly keeps his Bird influences in his back pocket, instead exploring daring intervallic leaps and abstract phrasing (there’s even an unaccompanied saxophone solo, something no one since Coleman Hawkins had really successfully explored). Like Dolphy, Little was another prodigy who died early in his career; his smoothly wandering lines provide a sharp contrast to Dolphy’s prickly approach. Byard, of course, has an affection for all styles of piano playing and often welds them into the same passage, a technique he would really perfect in the company of Roland Kirk. At the time, this was forward thinking music that even today has a whiff of the avant-garde. However, some may prefer Dolphy’s earlier work as a sideman; in more straightforward sessions like Oliver Nelson’s Blues and the Abstract Truth or Chico Hamilton’s Gongs East, Dolphy makes more of an impact, simply because his contributions are so startling compared to the other players. Far Cry, a bold attempt to challenge the status quo, shows how others had begun to catch up to the new thing.

Mal Waldron With Eric Dolphy And Booker Ervin - 1962 - The Quest

Mal Waldron With Eric Dolphy And Booker Ervin 
1962 
The Quest


01. Status Seeking
02. Duquility
03. Thirteen
04. We Diddit
05. Warm Canto
06. Warp And Woof
07. Fire Waltz

Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Joe Benjamin
Cello – Ron Carter
Drums – Charles Persip
Piano – Mal Waldron
Tenor Saxophone – Booker Ervin

Recorded June 27, 1961.


Mal Waldron spared no expense on his musician soldiers on this soaring New Jazz outing. Mal Waldron on piano, Eric Dolphy on alto & clarinet, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Ron Carter on the perfectly chosen cello, Joe Benjamin on bass, and Charles Persip on drums and they all shine bright! First off this album has zero sleepers. All seven tracks are arranged out to perfection. But if I had to chose my bonafide favorites, "Status Seeking" and Warm Canto" are it. This album reminds me so much of George Russell's Ezz-thetics (could be the presence of Dolphy). Although it is more contemplative and searching, yet it has the same fire in each note and thrill-ride adventure that Russell's album contains.

I am deeply addicted to 60's avant garde (as some of you might be) whether it be from the stellar Blue Note treasures or odd Contemporary or Riverside releases, this album finally is the fulfilling gem that I have been looking for! It took me way too long to find it, and you should not hesitate if you are reading these reviews to snatch it up, it is worth whatever you have to pay. Your jazz collection will thank you.

This is an unusual jazz album that I consider to be a masterpiece. The playing by everyone here is first rate, but it's the variety of instrument cominations and tempos with great melodies that really makes this a one of a kind experience. Mal Waldron on piano, Eric Dolphy on alto sax & clarinet, Booker Ervin on tenor sax(Wow, what a soloist!), Ron Carter (of the famous Miles Davis Quintet '65-'68) on cello(!), Joe Benjamin on bass & Charles Persip on drums. No two songs are cut from the same mold: there are some great alto/tenor sax duels with considerable fire, gentle ballads featuring Ron Carter's excellent plucked or tightly bowed cello, one track featuring Eric Dolphy on clarinet and so forth...every track brings something new & interesting to the mix. The tempos differ considerably as well: a fine mixture of gentle ballads and some considerably explosive bop. All in all a great listen and easily recommended!

Ron Carter with Eric Dolphy - 1961 - Where

Ron Carter with Eric Dolphy, Mal Waldron
1961 
Where


01. Rally
02. Bass Duet
03. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
04. Where?
05. Yes, Indeed
06. Saucer Eyes

Bass – George Duvivier
Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Flute – Eric Dolphy
Bass, Cello – Ron Carter
Drums – Charles Persip
Piano – Mal Waldron


This 1961 set has appeared under Eric Dolphy's name, but it is, in fact, bassist Ron Carter's date -- his first as a leader. Carter and Dolphy had played together in Chico Hamilton's group and on Dolphy's important 1960 date Out There. Where? has elements in common with both, but is closer to Hamilton's late-'50s chamber jazz than to the more outward-bound Dolphy date. As on the Dolphy session, Carter is heard on cello for three of the six tracks. Carter's skill is undeniable, but his playing on Where? is a bit polite and monochromatic. The easygoing duet with George Duvivier, for example, is a quiet, back-porch conversation that makes few demands on either of these bass giants. Dolphy -- playing bass clarinet, alto sax, and flute -- is a far more interesting prospect, even if he doesn't blow his face off to the extent he did in other settings. Pianist Mal Waldron is characteristically dry, economical, and swinging. Drummer Charlie Persip quietly impresses with thoughtful, detailed work. Duvivier is on bass when Carter plays cello. The tracks comprise two Carter originals, two standards, and a pair of Randy Weston numbers. Weston's "Saucer Eyes," the album's best track, features a strong group performance, a superbly laconic statement from Waldron, Dolphy's ebullient flute, and captivating brush work from Persip. Carter's "Rally," with Dolphy's freewheeling bass clarinet and the composer's most adventurous cello work on this set, is closest in spirit to Dolphy's own dates from this period.