During his 19 months with Prestige, Eric Dolphy recorded 13 sessions as a leader and sideman. All are included in this massive nine-CD set and, even when absorbed in two or three sittings, there is enough variety to hold on to any true jazz fan's attention. Dolphy, whether on alto, bass clarinet, flute, and even on a couple of occasions clarinet, was a true original with distinctive sounds of his own and very unique (but ultimately logical) styles.
In the fall of 1962, multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy invited keyboard genius Herbie Hancock to join his band. Although their association wouldn't last beyond the year and would produce only one live recording, the intensity of their encounter and the undeniable importance of both musicians as forward thinkers, make this a momentous historical collaboration.
Reissue. Features the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD player) and the latest 24bit 192kHz remastering. Includes an alternate take of "Hat and Beard" and a track for the first time in the world. Out to Lunch stands as Eric Dolphy's magnum opus, an absolute pinnacle of avant-garde jazz in any form or era. Its rhythmic complexity was perhaps unrivaled since Dave Brubeck's Time Out, and its five Dolphy originals – the jarring Monk tribute "Hat and Beard," the aptly titled "Something Sweet, Something Tender," the weirdly jaunty flute showcase "Gazzelloni," the militaristic title track, the drunken lurch of "Straight Up and Down" – were a perfect balance of structured frameworks, carefully calibrated timbres, and generous individual freedom.
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"…
Although the term "avant-garde" is used several times in the liner notes, this quartet outing by trumpeter Ted Curson, tenor saxophonist Bill Barron, bassist Herb Bushler and drummer Dick Berk actually falls between hard bop and free bop. Curson and Barron in particular made for a potent team and their interplay on nine originals (five by Curson, four by Barron) is quite impressive, swinging and occasionally witty. This CD reissue brings back the entire Tears for Dolphy album plus three of the six songs from the Flip Top LP, all recorded the same day. Although the title cut does not live up to its potential, such tunes as "Kassim," "7/4 Funny Time," "Quicksand" and "Searchin' for the Blues" manage to be both explorative and surprisingly accessible.
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.
The companion piece to Conversations (recorded at the same mid-1963 sessions with producer Alan Douglas), Iron Man is every bit as essential and strikes a more consistent ambience than its widely varied twin. It also more clearly anticipates the detailed, abstract sound paintings of Dolphy's masterwork Out to Lunch, in large part because this time around the program is weighted toward Dolphy originals. "Iron Man," "Burning Spear," and the shorter "Mandrake" all have pretty outside themes, full of Dolphy's trademark wide interval leaps and playful sense of dissonance.
For years, Last Date was thought of as Eric Dolphy's final recording until Unrealized Tapes (from nine days later) was released; Dolphy passed away only 18 days after performing this music. This LP from the European West Wind label features the great Dolphy on alto and bass clarinet with a sextet that includes trumpeter Donald Byrd, tenor saxophonist Nathan Davis and a French rhythm section performing four of his compositions including the otherwise unknown "Springtime." Eric Dolphy collectors will have to get this gem.