Eric Dolphy: 245
Eric Dolphy (alto sax)
Outward Bound (Prestige/New Jazz-PRCD-30083-2)
Composed by Eric Dolphy.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 1, 1960
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
I've always thought of this track as the sleeper from Outward Bound, Eric Dolphy's debut recording as a leader. Though hearing such great music is one of life's supreme joys, it is also a sobering reminder that in today's jazz world, the ability to look simultaneously forward and backward has become a lost art. For too many musicians and fans alike, It's an either/or proposition.
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear (any Lone Ranger fans still alive?) when the most exciting jazz was produced by players who didn't have to choose between making every note a tribute to a dead guy, or learning the fundamentals of grant writing rather than the fundamentals of music.
Here we have some of the most forward-thinking players of the time exploring one of jazz's most classic forms, the slow blues. The theme features a mournful, wailing melody over some interesting substitute chord changes. All three soloists dig in deeply, maintaining the theme's dark, probing mood without gratuitous double-timing or change-running.
Hubbard at the ripe old age of 22 was already speaking in his own voice, employing a fat, singing tone combined with the technical virtuosity needed to transfer some of John Coltrane's harmonic and rhythmic concepts to the trumpet. Byard, who had several centuries of piano music at his fingertips, sustains the mood, sounding like a Klingon version of James P. Johnson. Dolphy's own solo strikes a perfect balance between control and abandon, pushing the envelope while acknowledging his debt to both Bird and Hodges.
Reviewer: Kenny Berger