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Eccentric jazz by an eccentric genius
on April 6, 2004
Recorded four months prior to Dolphy's (diabetes associated) death is his best selling album "Out to Lunch" with the stunningly amazing drumming of 18-year old Tony Williams, and the great musicianship by vibraphone-virtuoso Bobby Hutcherson (23 at the time) and 25-year old trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Dolphy plays all three instruments he was known for playing - all equally, and with equal out-of-this-world skill; alto sax, flute, and bass clarinet. The changes of melody and solo instruments are really refreshing. The album also features the experienced, regular Dolphy bass player Richard Davis, known for working with jazz-artists such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, and Joe Zawinul, but also with artists like Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand. He has played classical music under the lead of Boulez, Stravinsky, Stokowski, and Leonard Bernstein as well. Here he--and his team mates--gives the music great justice to say the least; Dolphy seems to bring out a side in all these musicians that they probably hadn't gotten to, and do not get to, release daily in their playing. The quality of the ensemble playing is chilling; to say the very least it's in a class of its own, especially when considering that this music is recorded in early 1964!
To either warn or encourage people about this album, I must point out that it is very far from another "Kind of Blue"; a lot of these eccentric themes are played over eccentric forms as well - some in 5/4, some in 9/4. If you have heard and liked Dolphy's playing anywhere else, you will LOVE this. Part of what differs the mood of this album from jazz-albums of its time, is that not a note is heard from a piano; Hutchersons's vibes really set an original mood. I've listened through this recording at least 50 times, and every time I listen I get surprises, and hear something new that chills me. Without this album Dolphy wouldn't be spoken of as much as he is now. It's his most interesting album, with most variety, and with an exceptionally good sound quality. The music of Eric Dolphy should really be given a genre-title of its own - maybe "eccentric jazz"?