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Stanley Turrentine - Joyride (Blue Note Records / RVG Edition)

the CD

Stanley Turrentine-tenor sax

Kenny Burrell-guitar

Herbie Hancock-piano

Bob Cranshaw-bass

Grady Tate-drums

Ernie Royal, Snooky Young-trumpets

Clark Terry- trumpet, flugelhorn

J.J Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker-trombones

Phil woods-alto sax, clarinet

Jerry Dogion-alto sax, clarinet, piccolo flute, alto flute

Budd Johnson-tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet.

Bob Ashton-tenor sax, clarinet

Danny Bank-baritone sax, clarinet, alto flute

Orchestra arranged/conducted by Oliver Nelson

The better jazz musicians would often, given the chance and lifespan, evolve artistically. Stanley Turrentine was part of a small group which came up in the late 50’s and early 60’s. They did not allow themselves to be pigeon holed into one label specific style and its set rules. They drew inspiration from diverse sources often incorporating them all in tandem. This loose knit group would all work together over the span of many classic albums. The familiarity allowed for more complexity in both playing and composition. The familiarity also served as both a safety net and an inspiration. To not have to worry about fellow musicians being able to follow the charts and concepts was a freedom.

One tenor man who had both tone and chops from the very start and an eye towards the progressive possibilities of jazz was Stanley Turrentine. While perhaps subtler than some other horn men’s sonic calling cards, Stanley’s tone is instantly recognizable. In later years he would be nic-named “The Sugar Man” for his sweet, blue tone. The tone and playing was steady throughout, but his body of work is of two worlds.

Stanley Turrentine made his record debut on Dizzy Reece’s album “Comin’ on!” (1961 Blue Note Records). A forward thinking hard-bop date. This year also saw him add his voice to Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack” (Blue Note Records) and Jimmy Smith’s other album, recorded at the same time “Midnight Special”. Both sessions feature future collaborator Kenny Burrell on guitar. Jimmy Smith single handedly invented the way modern organ was used in jazz. While his albums were ground breaking in what he did with his instrument, they were still rooted in the blues-bop idiom. Around this time alto-saxist and hard-bop conceptualizer Lou Donaldson would begin incorporating organ into his small ensembles too (usually Dr. Lonnie Smith or John Patton). This music slowly morphed into the soul-jazz, much treasured by sample savvy turnbulists today. A new genre of jazz and one which has proved its worth by the timelessness of the many recordings still discovered and treasured by newcomers to jazz every year. Many practitioners of soul-jazz would incorporate the idea of the groove as a building block for extended pieces. The intensity of soul-blues with the complexity of third stream.

Stanley Turrentine and Kenny Burrell were two of the artists who used this learned lesson memorably. The first albums under his own name were usually stripped down ensembles which allowed his horn to be highlighted. “That’s Where It is At” (1962 Blue Note Records) was a trio recording. What is interesting about his small ensemble playing is that he does not crowd the spaces with overly complicated or long solos. Despite what else was going on at the time with his peers, Stanley was almost a throw back to a generation before when a soloist made their statement then got out. The less is more approach is very effective in these settings. This same year also saw him release “Never Let Me Go” which featured his wife Shirley Scott taking the organ seat. Whether a ballad or blues his tone is a study in subtle beauty.

Around this time some really forward thinking albums were being recorded. For lack of a better term, it was new third stream. Third stream as envisioned by artists who had, had exposure to Western Classical and ethno-world music compositional and performance theories. It never attained status as any type of a movement. One major factor in this was that the small group of artists which tried their hands at it all seem to have made only an album or two in this un-named style before exploring different artistic avenues. The small part of these artists’ catalog containing such an album gave the appearance of, at best, of a successful experiment, as opposed to any possible new direction.

Stanley Turrentine did the album “Hustlin” (1964 Blue Note), which while still in the soul-groove organ ensemble mode, added Kenny Burrell on guitar to further the sonic textures. The use of more instruments and larger sound attained not through solos but chamber-like arrangements had started. Several key albums and people were crucial to this development:

John Coltrane had “The Africa Brass Sessions” (1961 Impulse!) which was his classic quartet augmented by a thirteen piece orchestra made up of reeds and brass. The music was arranged by McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy, with Eric Dolphy also serving as conductor.

Oliver Nelson was a multi instrumentalist and top notch arranger. Despite his importance in helping further make jazz an art as opposed to an entertainment, he will probably be best known as the man who composed the theme song for the television show “The Six Million Dollar Man”. He was part of the second great wave of musician/arrangers which also included pianist/arranger Duke Pearson.

Unlike those who came before them, they were not rigid in their instrument combinations and sought progressive charts for the band to play regardless of whether there would be solos. They were both also willing to do complex arrangements for far smaller ensembles than their predecessors. Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and Abstract Truth” (1961 Impulse!) was a septet date featuring the unlikely meeting of Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans, which best illustrates this. Working along the same line Duke Pearson did Grant Green’s “Idle Moments” (Blue Note) which was a septet date mixing vibes, tenor and guitar and Donald Byrd’s “A New Perspective” (Blue Note) which featured wordless vocals by an octet and Kenny Burrell and Herbie Hancock.

Kenny Burrell and Herbie Hancock would be important allies, both doing other projects ambitious in scope and execution while also keeping one foot in the blues, well-spring to some extant of all jazz. After “Joyride” (1965 Blue Note) Stanley would again revisit soul-jazz with Kenny Burrell on his album “Midnight Blue (1967 Blue Note) while also recording “Rough’N Tumble” (Blue Note) with a septet (Duke Pearson Little Big-Band). Herbie Hancock would record “Speak Like a Child” (Blue Note) which was a sextet date inspired by Gil Evans and Thad Jones who also appeared on the album.

This album, Joyride was a part of Blue Notes Rudy Van Gelder series. Classic and sometimes obscure albums remastered and cleaned up by the original engineer using modern technology while not loosing or compromising the distinctive sound which made these albums classics. The sound on this recording is pristine. It comes with original liner notes and “A New Look At…” which are notes on the album from today’s perspective often containing recollections and facts only recently come to light.

Commercial considerations of jazz albums featuring strings/orchestra often reduced many albums whose concept was good into sounding like dated elevator music. The arrangements throughout this album are the perfect blend of bluesy accessibility and aural art. While not comfortably falling into big-band or third stream slot, this album’s influences are present, but not enough so to turn off anyone not a fan of either genre.

Although only the quintet is heard to solo, the tightly played, intricate back up is of notice in its own right. The jazz orchestra ensembles that have always seemed to work the best are the ones where all the players are also leaders or arrangers in their own right. Like John Coltrane’s “Africa Brass Sessions” and Thelonious Monk’s “Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall” (1959 Riverside) this album’s orchestra is made up of multi-generational mix of such players. Most likely one of the reasons this would make for a better orchestra is that each player can envision the piece as a whole as opposed to just their parts. J.J Johnson, one of Third-Stream genre creators is present here on trombone. Clark Terry who played with both Duke Ellington and Count Basie can also be heard here. Found within this orchestra too is Thad Jones, musician and key arranger along with the “Two Franks” (Foster and Wess) for the Count Basie New Testament band. He would spend decades with a Monday night residency at the Village Vangard with his own band The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band, responsible for bringing the big band concept into the modern age. He would also go on to play and inspire similar projects to this one.

There are no weak links in the quintet. Herbie Hancock was newly joined to Miles Davis classic free-bop group (Davis/Short/Carter/Hancock/Williams) creating less accessible music than can be found here and which must be termed high art. One month after recording this he would record his own “Maiden Voyage” (Blue Note) which follows the road he was already traveling with Mile’s group. The comparison between those recordings and what he does here makes for an interesting exercise in contrast. This is the blues, kissed by early R&B, but where other pianists would comp during certain passages, Herbie lets his cerebral side take over. An urbane conception of the blues.

Kenny Burrell had already worked on other ambitious projects beyond the soulful or smooth wanderings guitar was usually regulated to, and here too, he is a natural fit.

Stanley’s tone and playing throughout is logical, beautiful and tasty. He always managed to avoid sounding like a clone of what was happening big at the time. While not a jazz underdog in the same sense as Hank Mobley, the simplicity of his works, beauty sometimes makes people forget about his body of work in favor of the more adventurous choices.

The album is made up or original songs and a few covers. There are two bonus tracks too. I enjoyed all the tracks, but two stand out tracks for me are:

“I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone” (track # 2) A Buddy Johnson penned tune. The song starts off with a rich brass sound, using layered voicing akin to classic Gil Evans style arrangements. Initially the piano softly tinkles, sounding almost harp-like. The lead tenor statements are an exquisite cry of romantic anguish. Over-all the orchestra posses a beauty which differs from lush-flutterings of Duke Ellington or the more earthen blues base of Count Basie.

The cover of Lou Donaldson’s “Gravy Train” is my other favorite. Here Herbie Hancock can be found laying down some of his most straight ahead-bluesy runs ever. The trio of Stanley, Herbie and Kenny prominently play over the orchestra. It offers a glimpse of what the Count Basie band might have sounded like if they had been formed some fifty years later. It also shows that the blues can be, in its own way, joyous.

There are good jazz albums and then there are great jazz albums. For me the criteria of the second category is simple. With repeated listenings do you discover new things which surprise and delight? Here, yes, here, always. This a great album and one which I highly recommend.

-Maxwell Chandler-

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Elmo Hope: Quintet. Blue Note Records (Connoisseur Series)

the CD cover

Elmo Hope (piano)

Percy Heath (acoustic bass)

Philly Joe Jones (drums).

Frank Foster, Harold Land (tenor saxophone)

Stu Williamson, Freeman Lee (trumpet)

Leroy Vinnegar, Percy Heath (double bass)

Frank Butler, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey (drums)

Recording information: 1953 - 1957.

Although he would later claim to largely be self taught, Elmo Hope (1923-1967) began studying piano at the age of seven, often winning awards. He and childhood friend Bud Powell would frequently woodshed together, and indeed in their percussive attacks and runs there is sometimes a similarity.

In shades of Brahms in Hamburg a centaury earlier, Elmo gained live experience playing behind USO taxi dancers.

From 1948-1953 Elmo played with The Joe Morris Band. Joe is best remembered as a trumpeter for Lionel Hampton and not for his longer time spent fronting his own R&B flavored ensembles. It was with Joe that Elmo made his first appearance on a record. A 1953 session which also included Johnny Griffin, Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones.

It was from this first encounter that Philly Joe Jones became one of the earliest of Elmo’s boosters. The first important date in which Elmo’s own musical voice became apparent was on a Lou Donaldson/ Clifford Brown session (now out, combined with another session to form a Blue Note RVG titled Clifford Brown Memorial Album). Philly Joe Jones also appeared on this sessions.

At this time Blue Note had the practice of putting a potential rising star in several of someone else’s sessions before giving them their own lead date. In this way, a week later Elmo was leading his own Blue Note date.

A trio date using both Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones whom he had just worked with on the Previous Brown/Donaldson sessions.

His next session as a leader took place a year later, this time including Art Blakey on drums and a two horn front line of the now obscure trumpeter Freeman Lee and Frank Foster on tenor sax.

During this time Elmo kept up his visibility by appearing as a sideman on sessions by players who were coming up just as the crest of the original bop wave had broken. The list is impressive including time spent with Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and a session featuring the two tenor front line of John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. Now, a lot of these are albums which are hard to find and coming as they do at the start of many careers, at best, offer a glimpse of what was to come.

It was also at this time Elmo began having problems with drugs. A lot of his peers were too, some would eventually rise above it, others would become trapped in a cycle of self sabotage. During this period Sonny Rollins had not yet defeated his own demons, he and Elmo co-authoring the tune Carvin’ the Rock (all three takes are on Clifford Brown Memorial Album sans Sonny) which was in reference to the time Elmo spent in New York prison Rikers Island on drug charges. The Gene Ammon’s album The Happy Blues was supposed to feature him, but due to personal problems he was replaced by Duke Jordan before the tape started running.

Repeated run- ins with the law and the need to constantly be on the search for things with which to self medicate cost Elmo his cabaret card, without which he could not play in any bars or clubs.

With little else to do he ended up touring with Chet Baker on the West Coast. Not the best way for one to stay clean. Frequent chest ailments from his physical self abuse made the warm California sun seem a good idea.

He eventually left Chet Baker who would spend several more decades dying for his jazz sins. He met fellow pianist and his future wife Berthe while on the West coast.

Elmo tried to work steadily with Sax player Harold Land (He had shared the front line with Clifford Brown in the Brown/Roach ensemble, but bicoastal touring got to him. He amicably left the band to be replaced by Sonny Rollins before a car crash would claim both Clifford and pianist Richie Powell) He and Land made an album together while also doing several small label sessions leading his own trio. The trio dates further emphasized Elmo’s writing skills.

In general though, the West Coast (social) atmosphere seemed not to be to Elmo’s likening. He and Berthe moved back to New York in 1961. For Elmo, NYC had always been the holy land of Jazz much as Paris is to many poets.

Upon his return he cut some sides with hard bop trumpeter Blue Mitchell. With all that was going on in the jazz world at this time, the album seems to have only made a ripple. Elmo still could not regain his cabaret card, a hindrance for him to parley his homecoming. He tried his hand at arranging charts.

In the early sixties Elmo seemed to be trying to expand the scope of what he was doing and what the public saw. He cut a piano duet album with his wife. He did some more small label work which was not released until after his death, one of which had the tacky title of “Sounds from Riker’s Island” following yet another narcotics conviction.

Eventually his output now down to a trickle, stopped completely. 1967 saw him hospitalized for pneumonia and dying from heart failure.

This album is part of The Blue Note Connoisseur series. It is in a limited run and I can attest to Blue Note’s seriousness about that. The liner notes are by Ira Glitter, one of the few jazz writers who transcended mere criticism and showed that jazz writing could be an art unto itself.

Sonically the album sounds very good. It has been remastered using the 24 bit K technology. There is one track where the sound drops off for a second, but they actually warn about that in liner notes. This album contains a good overview of Elmo’s art and prowess. There are a few dates he did as sideman one could find (The Clifford Brown Memorial Album and Sonny Rollins Moving Out), but other than that all which remains are small label dates hard to find and of questionable production and performance value.

In his life-time, Elmo did have problems some of his own making. He left behind a small body of work, but one which is well worth exploring. As is often the case, his reputation has suffered from people merely parroting what had been said about him, a “lesser Bud Powell”.

At first glimpse Elmo is very much cut from the (Bud) Powell cloth. Percussive attacks aside, they are very different. While Powell’s trio recordings often had great interplay amongst the band (which sometimes featured Philly Joe Jones), there were never those moments of wordless telepathy or cerebral syncopation one could encounter on a Bill Evans trio date or Thelonious Monk with one of his stripped down ensembles.

On an emotional level, Elmo Hope succeeds far better with a trio than Bud Powell. The trio pieces contained within this album sound like a group and not a pianist backed by two. As much as Elmo had a bad reputation, a cursory reading of many of his peers recording dates, tour diaries et all reveal similar patterns.

In his later years, I do not think it was a matter of Elmo standing still stylistically. His was the very common curse of being around when jazz was in a rapid, great and constant state of flux. Many of those not in the immediate vanguard found themselves left behind.

I did not find the trio better than the group parts of this collection. Both showed different aspects of Elmo’s playing and compositions. I think too, Elmo fares better in the quintet settings than some pianists of “bigger” name. Often, when Bud Powell played with horns, despite the quality of idea and execution, you get the sense of waiting. Bud waiting to solo, the others waiting to rejoin the song.

Despite being several sessions, the CD has a unified feel, not a cherry picked sampler compilations often convey. The tracks are presented in the album order, with the alternate takes coming after. A far better way to do it than having to listen to several versions of a piece back to back.

Throughout the entire the CD, each band is fantastic. The two trumpeters, I am not overly familiar with, but they come across as more than competent. They are of the post-big band style not trying for the daredevil flights of Harry “Sweets” Edison or Roy Eldridge. Yet they also avoid the trap of sounding like clones of what was then just coming out. Tasteful and with verve, never sounding like just journey men players on a date, I was pleasantly surprised.

Frank Foster is one of “The Two Franks” who played with and did arranging for Count Basie’s Band (the new testament line up) (the other Frank being Frank Wess). While his playing and arranging has always swung, there too is an under-riding intelligence and sophistication to it. A sort of approachable intellectualism drenched in a bluesy tone.

Philly Joe Jones must have played at one time with every important piano trio (including Bill Evans, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk the holy trinity of eighty-eight keys). He always played with an adaptable sympathy tailored to whom-ever he was with without sacrificing that Philly Joe snap. In my vast jazz library, Art Blakey I have in all kinds of line ups both as leader and “sideman”. This is one of few dates where, not once does he fall back on any of his pet-licks, the slowly rolling thunder. I enjoyed the subtlety which sometimes he sacrificed for raw power.

It makes no sense to dwell on an artist’s faults. No matter how far their fall from grace, if they left behind a body of work wherein lies beauty and inspiration, that is where we should turn our gaze.

-Maxwell Chandler-

Maxwell will return with more adventures in sound

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The New King, Already Dead.

eric dolphy

The second world war and some union strikes helped further the evolution of jazz, circumstances combining to mid-wife the first modern era of jazz. Members of many big bands were being conscripted, those left behind found the logistics of keeping a big band on the road when everybody was tensely tightening their belts difficult. Smaller ensembles began playing clubs in cities where big bands had played the dance halls and ballrooms.

The small club jam sessions had always appealed to jazz musicians as a refuge from the sometimes overly-show biz manner in which they often had to conduct themselves to please an audience.

Towards the end of the war, musicians who had been over seas returned with stories of admiration from a jazz crazy and desegregated Europe. New York with its club lined streets very quickly became a sort of Mecca for a new breed of musician, who like Beethoven some one hundred years (or so) earlier now demanded to be treated as an artist and not merely an entertainer.

At the forefront of this movement were two musicians whose paths kept crossing and who had shared a similar pedigree, Charlie “Bird” Parker (1920-1955) and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (1917-1993). Dizzy had worked in Cab Calloway’s big band while Bird was with Jay McShann’s.

It was while on tour with McShann that Bird got a chance to go to New York and sit in at the after hours club jams which were also attended by Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) and future partner Dizzy. Dizzy was getting fed up with the constraints put on him in big band situations, Cab Calloway famously referring to Dizzy’s music as “Chinese Music”.

Bird too, was chaffing under the restrictions of having to provide entertainment and not create art. They both worked together in Billy Eckstein’s big band (1914-1993) where Dizzy was allowed to do some of the arranging for the horn section. They started using more unique voicing in unison. They would further the experiments at Minton’s Playhouse (Harlem) where Thelonious Monk was often the house pianist carefully watched by his artistic Gemini Bud Powell (1924-1966).

1945-46 Dizzy and Bird worked together in their own small ensembles teaching some other musicians on the 52nd street scene about their new theories and the artistic possibilities. In this initial flush of activity and excitement many modern standards were written,” Hot House”, “A night In Tunisia” et al.

A tour of the West coast showed them the bitter reality, although what they were creating excited other musicians and some of the bohemians in the know, the general public was not ready for something so new. The two personality types whose friction helped create art when combined with all sorts of outside pressure drove Bird and Dizzy apart. Both would go on to do other things, sometimes reuniting for a show but the collective creative aspect to what they did was now gone.

Bird was king, Bird inspired many musicians, not all of them horn players. He brought an extended freedom to the jazz solo, more depth and technical possibilities. Hearing the recordings now, it is easy to forget how shocking it was to a lot of people. Alien.

After Bird died there were many alto players being dubbed the “new” Bird. While a lot of these cats had chops and in many cases have given us compelling bodies of work, the point was missed. The “new” Bird would have to not play Cherokee as fast as Bird had, he would have to bring something completely new to the table, alien.

It took the birth of several new genres of jazz to be created (third stream, cool, hard-bop, modal) before the next true king would emerge.

Eric Dolphy.

The very thing that makes him heir apparent is what has kept his name from becoming more recognized, we still have not caught up to his work. It remains, some thirty years after the fact, modern, not easily palatable, alien.

Eric Dolphy (1928-1964) came out of the Central Ave, Los Angles scene which also gave us Sonny Criss (1927-1977) and Charles Mingus (1922-1979). He studied at Los Angeles City College and early on cut his teeth in the Roy Porter big band.

In 1958 his initial notice was garnered from a stint in Chico Hamilton’s (1921- ) band, which also allowed him to finally tour. After only a year of that, Eric moved to New York and joined Charles Mingus’s Jazz Workshop.

The philosophy and mission of The Jazz Workshop was to mix the complexity of western classical tradition with the emotions and earthy spontaneity of jazz. Because of Charles Mingus’s mercurial temperament the line-up for the workshop would ever be in flux, but from their initial union in 1959 right up until the time of Eric Dolphy’s death in 1964 they would often work together.

While doing his first stint with Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy would also work on the seminal double quartet chamber piece “Free Jazz” (Atlantic) by Ornette Coleman (1930- ).

The other, some would say most, important partnership which came about around this time was with John Coltrane and his classic quartet 1961-65 (McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison). For contractual reasons appearing under the name George Lane, he appeared with an expanded line up on their last album for Atlantic Records Ole Coltrane (1961) which also featured Freddie Hubbard and Art Davis whom Eric would encounter in other settings many more times.

The sweeping epic of the title track uses a two-bass drone figure which was a precursor to an embracing of non-jazz influences which would soon appear side by side to the colors already on the band’s palette.

After this, the Impulse label, new and willing to take artistic risks signed Coltrane. The first session was The Africa Brass Session (1961) which featured the dark burnished sound of an all brass orchestra. The large ensemble pieces were arranged by McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy, with Eric conducting as well. Future front line partner for the immortal Live at the Five Spot recordings, Booker Little (1938-1961) was also in the orchestra.

From this moment on, the Impulse labels calling card would be music which was cutting edge, sometimes well ahead of the curve. In the sixties their roster of artists was the who’s who of the sonic vanguard.

John Coltrane’s next project featured Eric even more prominently, a live recording of his bands Village Vanguard engagement. Originally only one set of this 1961 residency was going to be recorded. The engineers had the foresight to realize something important was going on and taped every set for all four nights. Like The Africa Brass Sessions an expanded line-up was featured. Aside from Eric Dolphy who appeared on alto saxophone and bass clarinet there would be an extra bassist, Gavin Bushell on contra-bassoon and oboe, Ahmed-Abdul Malik on oud and for some numbers drummer Roy Haynes who sometimes sat in for Elvin.

Again, as in the past, reviews were hostile to something so new. This music not only embraced free-jazz but also different ethnic music such as Indian Ragas and the trance-like aspect of Balinese Gamelan.

Down Beat magazine accused them of “anti-jazz”. So much negativity was made of this new music that Coltrane fired back in a series of letters and articles. The critical hostility was too much and by 1962 Eric had left the group.

He would forge on ahead in the direction they had started, whereas it would take a more “conservative” album or two before John Coltrane would venture out again.

Eric Dolphy came onto the scene fully formed. From his earliest appearances with both Mingus and Coltrane, there is that voice instantly recognizable. His was an amazing fecundity of ideas always carried out with a technical precision which never wavered no matter how fast the ideas came. Another impressive aspect of Eric’s playing was that no matter which of the many instruments he was playing, he was equally at home. Going from alto sax to bass clarinet nothing was sacrificed.

Listening to his playing there is a cathartic release to be had when one initially encounters his speaking in tongues bursts. With repeated listening to Eric Dolphy’s solos one begins to realize, impressive dexterity aside, there are whole other onion-like layers to what is going on.

What at first may appear as mere enthusiastic discordance, upon repeated listening reveal themselves to be complex patterns, patterns which embrace both modern classical and the vernacular folk idioms much in the same way as Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok had in some of their greatest pieces. This heady mélange would mix with the spontaneity of jazz.

The famed America choreographer George Balanchine (1904-1983) said that “Jazz was the sound of surprise”.

Unlike a lot of art which at some point had been cutting edge, Eric’s body of work did not derive the majority of its power from the shock of the new. It has all aged well and still manages to offer up enigmatic pleasure. Although his career was brief, he managed to be on two of the most important live documents of jazz, Charles Mingus “Mingus At Antibes” (1961) and the aforementioned Coltrane Vanguard dates. Those recordings are a revelation, but not the place for a newcomer to his work to start. The best place is with his first and only Blue Note date.

Blue Note Records had always had the practice of allowing for paid rehearsals. This made for the potential of more complex music since the musicians did not have to worry about feeling their way through a non standard while laying down tape. In general, it was not unusual for the same artist to show up on each others dates, but a smaller group began to crystallize within an already established stable of artists. A new type of jazz was being born. They were creating a new type of jazz which embraced the discordance of free jazz, modal jazz, modernist classical tinged with what would become known as “world music”. Unlike Bop, earlier there was no one main rallying figure and the genre never really got a name that stuck. Indeed, all its main practitioners are usually lumped into one of the preexisting genres.

Out To Lunch (1964) featured musicians who knew each other and were all working if not directly, then in sympathy with one another to bring about a further complexity to jazz.

Bobby Hutcherson (1941-) and Eric had both been on Andrew Hill’s Point Of Departure (1964). He now appeared on this date, which was cut from a similar cloth. Before him, in jazz, vibraphonists had but two models for their playing the swinging attack of Lionel Hampton or the chamber jazz of Milt Jackson. Bobby brought an avante-cerebral approach to his instrument unknown until this point.

Freddie Hubbard (1938-) had worked with Eric on John Coltrane’s Ole Coltrane album. Too often he is just considered a hard-bop trumpeter who was used as a “straight man” in seemingly free-jazz sessions. This is misleading. He had an aggressive varied attack and also has been on too many important modernist sessions to just be a type of sonic prop. On this date he meshes perfectly with what is going on where as someone who was more blatantly free would only have served to distract.

Richard Davis (1930-) would work with Coltrane as he went further out in his artistic vision. His lines are supple and clear providing the perfect terrain for which the ensemble can soar over.

Tony Williams (1945-1987) was initially discovered by Jackie McLean in Boston. He would be one of the key ingredients to Miles Davis’s second great group (1965-1968). He performed and recorded on some of modern jazz’s most important works while still in his teens. He is one of the greatest jazz drummers and here he adds more than just a complex percussive depth to the recordings.

Out To Lunch has been issued as a “RVG” edition, which stands for Rudy Van Gelder. He was Blue Note’s original producer and over the past decade Blue Note has had him go back using modern cutting edge technology and remaster some of his classic recordings, always to great effect. The sonics on RVG’s are for the most part pristine and always noticeably better than a standard Blue Note CD release (of older recordings).

Each track averages about eight minutes long. While not a theme or concept album there is a definite unified feel to it.

One of my favorite tracks is “Hat and Beard”.

As opposed to the innovators of the earlier generation, there was no desire or need to show their theories through the vehicle of standards. Pianist/composer Andrew Hill only recorded his own compositions. Occasionally would be a cover by someone of a Thelonious Monk tune, but that was almost a pledge of allegiance to what could be said to be the well spring of musical outsider artist. Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure album’s second track is titled “New Monastery” in a veiled reference to Thelonious’s last name, Monk. Eric’s “Hat and Beard”, another Monk reference. This track conveys the elliptical rhythms Thelonious himself was so found of employing. It manages to be both playful and deep.

All RVG Blue Notes reproduce the original liner notes followed by “A new look at…” which are new notes discussing the album and its importance with the hindsight of time. Here, the original notes were written by Eric himself. He ends with humbly stating that he was moving to Europe where there was more respect and desire for this new thing which he was creating. Sadly, before this album would even hit the shelves Eric would be dead in Berlin due to a mishap involving his diabetes. What would happen to the small group trying to birth a new art? Some others would die (Booker Little, Albert Ayer). Many more would move to Europe where there was a greater understanding to what they were trying to do (Archie Shepp, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacey, Randy Weston) Others would forge ahead fulfilling their artistic promise but seemingly also embracing a semi-reclusive existence (Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Ornette Coleman)

The new king is already dead. He left behind his aural treasure. I can give you the words for power, release, thunder, but really one must hear it for themselves to truly treasure it.

-Maxwell Chandler-

Maxwell will return with further adventures in sound

the cd cover

Eric Dolphy/Out To Lunch (Blue Note RVG Edition)

Freddie Hubbard-trumpet

Eric Dolphy-alto sax, bass clarinet

Bobby Hutcherson-vibes

Richards Davis-bass

Anthony Williams-drums

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Page one of Max's Jazz reviews

On to Max's page 6.

Rock reviews.

Index of Music Reviews

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