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Eric Dolphy

  • Out To Lunch

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    Eric Dolphy

    Out To Lunch 9 ( 1964 ) more best albums...
    Hat And Beard / Something Sweet / Gazzelloni / Out To Lunch! / Straight Up And Down

    Eric Dolphy was moving forwards, experimenting, acheiving. Not one for the faint of heart - this isn't easy listening Jazz. This is challenging, free form and experimental, sometimes dissonant but always melodic and rewarding. It was to be his final album before his life was tragically cut short. The opening song is both wonderfully titled, and wonderful! Eight minutes of spooky, progessive bass, odd percussion and Eric Dolphy's Alto Sax moving all over the place. Richard Davis plays bass, and I don't know what else he did after this record but he deserves a medal for his contribution here. 'Something Sweet' opens with a classic sound Jazz melody courtesy of Mr Dolphy but with an undercurrent of spooky sounding bass and vibes. It progresses through many melodic sections whilst always being on the edge of sounding dissonant and out of tune. Out To Lunch! It moves back and forth, the bass and drums are superb - the melodies ever changing, in short bursts, moving.

    'Gazzelloni' is perhaps the most straightforward moment here, a pulsating bass rhythm, an enticing and surging melody and seven minutes of musical entertainment amid yet more wonderful melodies. The title song, by contrast, is one of the more challenging pieces here, everything sounds strange initially, out of place. It takes some adjustment to hear all the different parts seemingly not playing with each other but against each other, every instrument not only playing a different melody, but a different time signature and rhythm. We close with the cinematic 'Straight Up And Down' which seems to be anything but! Yet more melodic and percussive invention and strange senses of time. The thing is, everything sounds strange, everything here sounds spooky, and different, and bizarre. And yet, after a while, perfectly natural - as if this is the only way Jazz could possibly be played. With imagination, with daring, with flair. A masterpiece certainly. Not an easy masterpiece but it is one nevertheless.

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    Readers Comments

    Not really Dolphy's last record, there are definitely live recordings from Europe, but probably his last playing with a collection of musical peers. Glad you noticed Richard Davis' bass playing, he's on all kinds of great records (Booker Ervin, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard) from the late 50s to mid 60s but never achieved the recognition of, say, Ron Carter. Which is weird since Davis had that distinctive tone and lots of ideas and something elastic. There's some nifty recordings where it's just a duet between Dolphy & Davis (Come Sunday & Alone Together). Don't have much to say about the album, it's too good for my descriptions. One of the greatest balancing acts between control/freedom & individual/group focus.

    It's also not widely known that Richard Davis - the very same Richard Davis - also played bass and led the band on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Really! His basslines are immediately recongizable. I should say though that on "Hat and Beard" and "Something Sweet, Something Tender", Dolphy is playing bass clarinet, not alto sax.

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    this page last updated 14/07/07

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