Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eric Dolphy

Madlib titled one of the tracks on his Advanced Jazz mixtape "Dolphy," which got me investigating just who this Dolphy character is.

Turns out he was a multi-instrumentalist who worked with Coltrane (among others) before branching out as a leader, producing several amazing albums, and then dying tragically young.

I got Out There, which I really enjoy, but it's Out To Lunch which is his true masterpiece. Take "Hat and Beard."

It's starts off as standard bouncy sixties jazz, complete with vibraphone. But something is off: the drums seem to be keeping their own beat, and the whole thing is off kilter. When his sax comes in, it's doing the scree thing that Ayler and Coltrane and Coleman and Sanders were experimenting with. The whole thing is accessible yet  freaky. No wonder a lot of traditionalists dismissed his music.

I can't tell you how much I love this album. I have been listening to it incessantly for the past two weeks. I got it at the same time I got Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, and I like Out To Lunch more.Not that Kind of Blue isn't genius in its own right, but Dolphy's avant weirdness is much more interesting to me than Miles's restrained cool.

The picture, by the way, is stolen from here, which has a great bio of the man.

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