Eric Dolphy: Tenderly




Eric Dolphy (alto sax)


Far Cry (Original Jazz Classics OJCCD-400-2)

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Eric Dolphy (alto sax).

Composed by Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 21, 1960


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Two days in the life of Eric Dolphy. On December 20, 1960, he participates in Gunther Schuller's significant Jazz Abstractions Third Stream recording session in New York. To start the next day, he joins Ornette Coleman in a New York studio for Ornette's influential Free Jazz. To end the same day, Dolphy travels to New Jersey for his first recording date with trumpeter Booker Little. By then, perhaps, he needed a break from experimentation and a return to some standard tunes. He performs "It's Magic" on bass clarinet with just the rhythm section, and "Tenderly" unaccompanied on alto sax.

His solo version of "Tenderly" affords us an intimate and enchanting glimpse at how Dolphy could simultaneously respect and deviate from a song's melodic and chordal structure. With his distinctive piercing tone, he utilizes ostinatos, intervallic leaps and some intricate, nearly boppish runs to navigate the piece, occasionally appearing about to enter a swinging groove only to quickly fly off into another inspired variation or embellishment of a particular aspect of the theme. This off-center, uninhibited interpretation is, in the end, right on target. A rarity in jazz up to that point a recorded solo performance by a saxophonist, and one to treasure.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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