Eric Dolphy & Booker Little: Fire Waltz
Eric Dolphy at the Five Spot (Prestige OJCD-133-2)
Composed by Mal Waldron.
Recorded: Five Spot Cafe, New York, July 16, 1961
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Trumpeter Booker Little would be dead from uremia less than three months after this celebrated recording, a promising career cut off at only 23 years of age. Eric Dolphy would also soon be gone, dead three years later at the age of thirty-six. But even if this duo had only left behind the Five Spot recordings, their reputations would be secure. The piano is out-of-tune, the audience noisy, but Dolphy and Little solo as though this is the concert to end all concerts, playing with the fervor of those true believers who walk barefoot on hot coals. On this "Fire Waltz," Dolphy leads off with a speaking-in-tongues solo on the alto, proselytizing for a new world of jazz between the extremes of Bird and Ornette. Little follows, opening in a hard-bop vein, but gradually pushing harder and harder against the harmonies. "The more dissonance, the bigger the sound," Little mentioned in a rare interview. "I can't think in terms of wrong note. In fact, I don't hear any notes as being wrong. It's a matter of knowing how to integrate the notes and, if you must, how to resolve them." Little demonstrates his thesis on this track, constantly disrupting the harmonic equilibrium with a slashing, shock-and-awe solo that ranks among his finest musical moments.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia