Jazz Feature for March 5:Eric Dolphy:"Out There"
The Jazz Feature tonight is multi-instumentalist Eric Dolphy's second album under his name done for the Prestige/New Jazz label in August of 1960 called "Out There". His first for that label was called "Outward Bound" and that classic was done with conventional small band instrumentation of saxophone (or bass clarinet or flute), trumpet, piano, bass and drums. This second recording was a reflection of Dolphy's time with drummer Chico Hamilton's popular quintet with Dolphy's horns, guitar, cello, bass and drums. It was with Hamilton's group that Dolphy achieved national fame. By eliminating the guitar and playing his own much more adventurous music, Dolphy acknowledged the Hamilton sound but extended and advanced that concept by leaps and bounds.. So with Ron Carter on cello, George Duvivier on bass and Roy Haynes on drums, Mr. Dolphy moved closer to his own concept with this recording. We hear Dolphy on alto saxophone, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet and flute in a very interesting program of four Dolphy originals, a Charles Mingus ballad, a Randy Weston tune and a moving composition by classical composer Hale Smith.
Eric Dolphy was born in Los Angeles on June 20 1928, the only son of hard working West Indian immigrants who saw in young Eric a great love for music. His parents encouraged Eric and even built a studio for him in back of their modest home in Watts. By the time he was in his teens, Eric was proficient on clarinet and all of the saxophones, although alto was his first love. He took up flute and bass clarinet and also oboe and bassoon, although he never recorded on the latter two. Eric paid his musical dues in the Los Angeles musical underground playing R&B, rock,weddings, hotel gigs and when he could, Jazz jobs. He was a member of drummer Roy Porter's legendary big band in 1948-49. Eric gigged with everyone including a young virtuoso bassist named Charles (Baron) Mingus. It really wasn't until Dolphy replaced Paul Horn in drummer Chico Hamilton's popular quintet that his name began to be mentioned in wider circles. Eventually Hamilton came to New York with Dolphy and they parted ways. Mingus heard and knew about Eric and asked him to join his Jazz Workshop in 1960 and that band with trumpeter Ted Curson, tenorists Booker Ervin or Yusef Lateef, various pianists like Paul Bley, Roland Hanna etc. and drummer Dannie Richmond became one of the most potent ensembles of the time. It was during this time that Dolphy recorded his first album, "Outward Bound" and tonight's Jazz Feature: "Out There".
Eric left Mingus at the end of 1960 and joined Max Roach's band and was also in George Russell's wonderful sextet, and for about 6 months Eric was in John Coltrane's band. He did many sideman gigs with Freddie Hubbard and John Lewis and recorded the pivotal "Free Jazz" with Ornette Coleman's Double Quartet and so many others as well as touring and leading his own groups. Eric rejoined Mingus in early 1964 for a tour of Europe and decided to stay there after the tour was over and marry his girlfriend and carry on his own but was struck down by diabetes and died in a Berlin hospital on June 29,1964, he had just turned 36. Eric recorded prolifically and for most people he seemed to come out of nowhere and flashed across the Jazz horizon only to disappear quickly like a comet. Eric's virtuosity on all of his instruments were the result of constant practise and his concept on alto saxophone was fresh and new. Like Ornette Coleman, Dolphy used speech patterns in his playing and vocal inflections but unlike Coleman, Dolphy was much more rooted in the concepts of bebop and chord progressions, His bass clarinet concept was truly singular as well and his wonderful fluttery flute playing, although more conservative than his other horns was compelling as well. I think that you, the listener, will find "Out There" a very modern and challenging date that has stood the test of time.
The Eric Dolphy Feature will air as usual shortly after 11pm but please join me right at 9pm when the show starts with a set featuring a 1987 reunion of the original Ornette Coleman Quartet with Ornette on alto saxophone, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drums.
This is astounding music was recorded in concert in Hamburg, Germany. There will be much more so I'll see you then.....................
One more thing......due to a glitch on our server only a partial podcast of the Feb. 20 show is available on Feedburner or iTunes. It begins with the last few minutes of the show before The Jazz Show then it's good for only a half hour or so before it cuts out. The glitch has since been repaired.