February 6, 2011 by hhbrady
I have a soft spot for Eric Dolphy– the banner image for this site is Dolphy holding a flute, and the current logo is Amiri Baraka‘s description of Dolphy’s playing….
“Out there” starts just there, with everyone playing the same line (Dolphy on alto sax), yet somehow playing something individual… dig that bass especially….
Dolphy is that all-or-nothing player/composer: his pieces/songs are either in your top 10 of all time, or they’re weird crap…. At 4:30 a flurry of notes and tones, somehow necessary and making their point, not just digital masturbation… his jagged somehow consonant lines culminating at 5:23….
“Serene” is next, the drunken, staggering… Straight Up and Down ballad, somehow managing to adhere to consonant keys and rhythms… how can you not love such selective rhythms…? And on the strangely beautiful bass clarinet, no less…?
“The Baron” with its 0:40 jagged stand-up bass lines… a steel and wood accompaniment, somehow perfect, to the bass clarinet of Mr. Dolphy….
Next, “Eclipse,” with its minor/diminished/chromatic/holy Jesus what the fuck is this opening… as is normal for Dolphy, there is a seemingly-unexplainable liturgical bent to the music… one at 2:17, one strangely “classical,” seemingly bass-clarinetically (that’s a word now, motherfuckers) reverent… ending abruptly, we soar down into
“17 West” and its Flute Manifesto (Dolphy the master of assertive flute, seemingly an impossibility)…Eric Dolphy here showing you the link between modern jazz musicians and so-called “primitive” medicine men and their rituals….
“Sketch of Melba” continues with its flute, meditative, confident, yet admissive of new ideas… its trill (starting with a subtle gasp at 0:57, ending at, finally, 1:14… nicely played Dolphy…!
Finally, “Feathers,” with its plaintive plaints (via alto sax)… finishing an underrated chef d’ouvre….