Albert Ayler: On Green Dolphin Street

A refutation to the common misconception that Albert Ayler had no foundation in the fundamentals of modern jazz performance, "On Green Dolphin Street" has the tenor saxophonist playing a standard tune with a bland, generic bebop rhythm section. That he does so in an idiosyncratic yet not totally off-the-wall manner shows that his eventual rejection of traditional mores was done with ample knowledge about what he was rejecting. Ayler's approach to playing this tune is something like Eric Dolphy's. He runs roughshod over the changes at times. Other times, he treats them with careful—and even gentle—consideration. He plays impossibly fast, with a huge, occasionally guttural tone. Concurrent with this, Ayler was experimenting with the hymnic, free-associative style that he later made famous; this shows us another, perhaps equally compelling direction his mature music might've taken.

May 18, 2009 · 0 comments


Eric Dolphy: On Green Dolphin Street

With an almost tongue-in-cheek approach, the often dissonant Eric Dolphy lends his versatile talents to this unique and perhaps most endearing version of a 1947 classic song. Here he demonstrates his bass clarinet virtuosity. In the opening lines we hear an almost oom-pah bellow from the lowest register of this woody instrument. Dolphy, Byard, Tucker and Haynes set the background beat for the melody, which is played in brilliantly muted counterpoint by Freddie Hubbard. Dolphy then reiterates the melody on his unusual horn's upper register. The effect is startling. One almost feels this is a different instrument, such is the range of diverse sounds Dolphy summons from the depths of its core. After demonstrating his remarkable facility with a plethora of notes on a swinging solo, Dolphy yields to Hubbard, who plays a particularly nice muted, higher register trumpet solo with distinct bite, especially effective in contrast to Dolphy's cavernous sound. Following Tucker's short bass solo backed by the ever-so-discreet Haynes, the oom-pah bellow of Dolphy's bass clarinet returns before he again switches its sound to a stirring honking finale. Byard gently tinkles the ivories to close out this classic.

May 23, 2008 · 0 comments


Donald Brown: On Green Dolphin Street

Donald Brown initially settles the melody of this standard on an ostinato by the bass notes of the piano. It will remain a guideline to his whole interpretation. Whatever his virtuoso right hand may do with the harmony and around the melody in the upper register, the left one doesn’t just accompany it. It weaves a fascinating, ever-changing rhythmic line that compels our ears to follow both hands at the same time.

March 03, 2008 · 1 comment


Mark Murphy: On Green Dolphin Street

Right from the start, when Murphy sings the verse solely with piano, you know it's going to be a great vocal version of this tune. Mostly thanks to the singer, whose relaxed phrasing is full of unexpected breaks and accelerations, and molds the melody with supreme freedom. His timbre also blends gorgeously with the horns because Murphy, given the range of his voice, can afford to use it as an instrument. With such a singer, the arrangement needn't fill too much space, and indeed the horns remain rather discreet—all focusing the spotlight on the one and only Mark Murphy.

January 31, 2008 · 0 comments


Oscar Peterson & Milt Jackson: On Green Dolphin Street

Film music composer Bronislaw Kaper wrote this tune for the 1947 movie Green Dolphin Street, and it became a warhorse for jazz players during the ‘50s. Here the Peterson trio, augmented by Jackson’s vibraphone, treats the tune with subtle architecture and relaxing groove. A solo by Jackson full of characteristically nuanced phrasing is followed by Peterson’s exploration of melody as he restricts himself to a very uncharacteristic pianissimo touch. The whole group seems to build an instant rapport as Jackson breathes with light hipness and Peterson warmly finesses the changes.

November 11, 2007 · 0 comments


Miles Davis: On Green Dolphin Street

    Miles Davis, photo by Herb Snitzer

Originally issued on Jazz Track, an LP that devoted one side to Miles Davis playing his own film music and the flip side to Miles covering 1940s movie themes, this arrangement set the jazz mold for "On Green Dolphin Street." Henceforth, Chambers's dominant-to-tonic ostinato became as much a part of the song as composer Kaper’s melody. Miles’s Harmon-muted trumpet provides an ideal springboard for uninhibited saxophonists Coltrane and Adderley, after which Evans—recognizing the futility of single-note solos in such company—instead pays block-chord homage to George Shearing. This 10-minute track describes late-'50s hip better than a roomful of doctoral dissertations.

October 27, 2007 · 0 comments


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