Feb 24, 2014
Eric Dolphy recorded only one album for the famous Blue Note label, but what an album it was!
Fifty years ago on February 24th, Dolphy led a quintet into Rudy Van Gelder's studio and created music that I can only describe as "mainstream avant-garde," a collection of five songs that have the fire and open feel of Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane, and yet keep a grounded, syncopated sound that predates music that the likes of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and later John Zorn, would produce in years to come.
What a band Dolphy brought along! Vibes master Bobby Hutcherson and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard were already fixtures on the Blue Note scene. Bassist Richard Davis was a key member of Andrew Hill's band, as well as a contributor to classic releases by Booker Ervin and Joe Henderson. He was tapped by Van Morrison to be the bass player on his seminal rock album Astral Weeks four years later.
On drums was an 18 year old named Anthony Williams, but the jazz world would embrace him as Tony when he came to prominence with Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet, and go on to re-write the sound of jazz.
A few months after recording this album, Dolphy went on a European tour with his mentor Charles Mingus. Sadly. he died shortly thereafter of a diabetic shock.