Archive for Eric Dolphy

The Way You Look Tonight – Eric Dolphy

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on February 8, 2019 by telescoper

It’s been a very busy week so I’m about to go home and dive into a glass or two of wine, but before doing that I thought I’d leave a little something for the weekend.

Among the other things I have to do next week is make a short trip to Copenhagen to examine a PhD candidate. This track was recorded live at Copenhagen on September 8 1961 and it features Eric Dolphy (alto sax), Bent Axen (piano), Erik Moseholm (bass) and Jørn Elniff (drums). The tune The Way You Look Tonight is an old standard, written in 1936 by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern, but what a version this is! Dolphy tears through the changes on this performance, reinventing the piece in a way that turns what might be a routine tune into something absolutely new and refreshing. The combination of virtuosity and exuberance of the saxophone playing in this phenomenal performance is absolutely exhilarating. Enjoy!


G.W. – Eric Dolphy

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on October 3, 2017 by telescoper

What better way to celebrate today’s announcement of the award of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics for the detection of Gravitational Waves, than to play this amazing Eric Dolphy track called `G.W.’ from the album Outward Bound?

This album was recorded in 1960, and the stellar personnel listening is as follows: Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone on this track but also bass clarinet and flute elsewhere on the album); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Jaki Byard (piano); George Tucker (bass); Roy Haynes (drums). It’s a great line-up but listen out for the opening solo by Dolphy! Wow!

Hat and Beard

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on September 22, 2015 by telescoper

I haven’t posted much Jazz recently, and was reminded of this fact when I listened to the following track on my iPod yesterday while travelling back from Cardiff to Brighton.  Hat and Beard is an original composition by one of my favourite jazz artists, saxophonist Eric Dolphy and was written in honour of another of my favourite jazz artists, Thelonious Monk, who not only sported a splendid beard but also had a famously eccentric taste in headgear…

hat and beard

Anyway, Hat and Beard is taken from the pioneering free jazz album Out to Lunch. This album is without doubt one of the high points of 1960s avant-garde jazz, primarily because of Dolphy’s extraordinary playing (in this case on bass clarinet) but also because of the brilliance of the other musicians: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet; Bobby Hutcherson on vibes; Richard Davis on bass; and the superb Tony Williams on drums (who was only 18 when this track was recorded).

Out to Lunch!

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on December 19, 2011 by telescoper

Today’s the day for our infamous annual departmental Christmas Lunch, which last year started at 12.30 and carried on until 3.30 the following morning (at least for me and a few other diehards). I thought I’d mark the occasion this year with an appropriate piece of music featuring one of my favourite jazz artists, saxophonist Eric Dolphy. This is the title track of the pioneering free jazz album Out to Lunch. This album is without doubt one of the high points of 1960s avant-garde jazz, primarily because of Dolphy’s extraordinary playing but also because of the brilliance of the other musicians. It’s a virtuoso performance all round, and it’s especially hard to believe that the superb drummer Tony Williams was only 18 when this track was recorded!

Unfortunately the original track is a bit too long for Youtube so this is in two parts; you’ll have to click through for the second bit.

Anyway, this would definitely be one of my Desert Island Discs and it probably also serves as an accurate musical illustration of the state my brain will be in later today. Enjoy!

God Bless the Child

Posted in Jazz with tags , on December 29, 2009 by telescoper

I just came across this amazing performance and thought I’d share it with you. In fact I’ve been meaning to post something by the great Eric Dolphy for some time, and finding this reminded me to do so. I think Eric Dolphy was one of the true geniuses of Jazz, in that his sound and way of playing were completely unique. Like all the other great Jazz musicians you only have to hear a few notes to know that it was him. He was at home in diverse settings, and played with many of the greatest modern musicians – Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman to name but a few – but he always seemed to be able to impose his own musical personality whoever he was playing with. He’s also one of those characters that Jazz historians find difficult to categorize. Although he came to the fore in the late 50s and early 60s he didn’t really sound like anyone else of that period. In particular, his music wasn’t really free jazz, although he did play on many classic records in that idiom, so he doesn’t fit comfortably in the neat evolutionary sequences that historians like to construct.

He also died very young, just after his 36th birthday. He was on tour in Germany in 1964 when he collapsed onstage and was taken to hospital. Since he was a Jazz musician, the doctors thought that he had overdosed on drugs and left him on a saline drip to recover. They had no idea that in fact he was diabetic. He had probably become confused by the concentration and dosage instructions on the insulin he acquired while in Germany with the result that his blood sugar levels had become messed up. Simple treatment would have saved his life, but he died in hospital on June 29th 1964.

Eric Dolphy’s was  a virtuoso on many instruments, including saxophones (especially alto) and flute, but I found this one of him playing the bass clarinet unaccompanied. The tune, God Bless the Child, was co-written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzong Junior and is probably best known for Billie’s version which you can find here.  The Eric Dolphy version here was recorded in Germany, possibly during his last tour. I think it’s amazing.