Today we celebrate one of the most creative and eclectic personalities in the history of jazz. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of his sudden death this weekend (from complications of diabetes, at age 36) in a (then-West) Berlin hotel, we look back at the life and music of Eric Dolphy.
This cat blew rings around other horn-men with ease, and was quite versatile. His main axe was alto-saxophone, but he was also accomplished at flute and bass-clarinet. Charles Mingus, who know Dolphy from way-back to his formative years in Los Angeles, where they both grew up and paid their dues in various bands from Satchmo's, Duke's and Hamp's (Mingus) to Chico Hamilton's and Gerald Wilson's (Dolphy), knew how to hone Eric's gifts into his compositions & arrangements, and the two had a very close & fruitful relationship - so much that Mingus was devastated for weeks when he heard the news of Dolphy's death (barely weeks after leaving the Mingus sextet on tour in Europe) during the summer of 1964.
Dolphy was also know for his brief, yet fruitful, collaboration with John Coltrane, around 1960-61. Like Mingus, Dolphy knew 'Trane from their gigging-years in L.A. in the '40s and early '50's before 'Trane hooked up with Miles Davis. Together they recorded AfricaBrass and a memorable live-album at the Village Vanguard (NYC) in '61. Dolphy also gigged with Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Ornette Coleman, and a few others. His greatest solo-effort, Out to Lunch! (Blue Note), which featured also Hubbard (trumpet), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Richard Davis (bass) and a teenage, pre-Miles Tony Williams (drums), was recorded & released in '64 just before he took off for Europe with the Mingus sextet... a trip that, sadly, he would never return.
OK, let's remember the genius that was Eric Dolphy! Tunz for ya...
First, "Out To Lunch"
From the Charles Mingus Sextet '64 tour... "Take The A Train" (live in Oslo, Norway)
(Mingus, Dolphy, Jaki Byard (piano), Johnny Coles (trumpet), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax) and Danny Richmond (drums).... SMOKIN'!!!!!
Finally, my own little tribute to Eric Dolphy... several years ago I recorded on my home studio (mainly GarageBand soft-instruments with 'live' bass) a "techno-jazz" version of "Out To Lunch"...
(FYI, this will auto-play)