The Rocco John Group: Riffin' for Eric


Riffin' for Eric


The Rocco John Group


Devotion (CD1003)

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Rocco John Iacovone (alto & soprano saxes),

Michael Irwin (trumpet), Aaron Keane (bass), Dalius Naujokaitis (drums, percussion)


Composed by Rocco John Iacovone


Recorded: New York, September 2008


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Anyone familiar with the music of Out to Lunch's creator knows which "Eric" these riffs honor. It's one thing to pay homage to the avant-garde great by covering one of the pieces that made Eric Dolphy a legend; it's quite another to come up with a Dolphy song all your own. Rocco John Iacovone pulls that off with a track containing all the touchstones of classic Dolphy: conventional song structures and timekeeping used as a launching point for stretching the limits of tonality and harmony as far as they can go while maintaining a link to preexisting forms. There's a theme that's as well defined and memorable as anything in traditional jazz, but sounding just this side of eccentric. Just like his hero, Iacovone's alto plays both inside and outside the chord changes, glides across registers, plays urgent short phrases and repeats notes for emphasis, without overdoing any of it. Michael Irwin's swinging and brassy trumpet acts as a foil, accentuated further when Iacovone jousts with him for a wonderful double solo. "Riffin' for Eric" is like some recently uncovered addition to Dolphy's oeuvre that could reside comfortably within that classic canon.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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