June 29, 2010

Eric Dolphy
The Copenhagen Concert - 1961

Today is the anniversary of Eric Dolphy's death in 1964. I didn't get to have an Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ this year, so this post will have to do.

If you aren't familiar with Dolphy and you care at all about jazz or avant-garde music, you really should school yourself. His name get over looked on the surface of jazz because he gets lumped in with 'that weird noisy jazz'. Yes, he did play on Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz album, but he is so much more than that. It's easy to dismiss his melodies and lines as free-form but he really has some great melodies happening. Maybe they are atonal, but they are still melodies. I really feel his brand of jazz is steeped in tradition. He may not be creating conventional jazz, but deep down it's coming from the same place. He wasn't trying to break down what jazz should be, just play around with it a little bit. His tempos and chord changes are too structured to accurately be called free-jazz.

He definitely came out of the school of hard-bop. Playing with Mingus in the early 60s and The Coltrane on his legendary Africa/Brass sessions in '61 made him a household name. While his releases as bandleader for Prestige Records are easily overlooked, It's his 1964 Blue Note album, Out To Lunch!, that really seals the deal with jazz fans all over (myself included).

If you've never heard this album and you are into Coltrane, Davis, Mingus, Coleman or any hard-bop, post-bop, third stream or just modal music in general, go get it. Plus, It was recorded in New Jersey! It's always in print and usually very cheap. Blue Note will never let this go out of print because it's widely accepted as one of their best releases. So go buy it. If nothing else, buy it for the beautiful Reid Miles cover design.

But in the mean time download this little rarity. The record is a little beat up, but Dolphy is on fire! It seem that the band, other than bassist Chuck Israels, is a Danish house band but they sound like they have been playing together for a while. Maybe this was part of a whole European tour they were doing together. I don't know.

One last thing before I go drop the needle on my copy of Out To Lunch! I feel the story surrounding Dolphy's death needs to be told. In 1964, right after releasing his most acclaimed album, again Out To Lunch!, he embarked on a successful European tour with Charles Mingus' monster sextet (an amazing CD came out on Blue Note a few years ago featuring this band) and then settled in with his ballet-producer wife in Paris to live the good life. One night he was playing in (or just visiting, according to different accounts) Berlin when he suddenly collapsed. He was a long time diabetic and had gone into insulin shock. It was the 60s and the hospital he was taken to knew he was a jazz musician so the doctors assumed he was on some sort of drug and just left him alone to let the drugs run their course. He was dead by morning. It's such a shame that he could have easily been helped and continue recording. Who know what he would have done next.....

oh well. Enjoy!

Track listing:
Side A:
1. Hi-Fly
2. Glad To Be Unhappy

Side B:
1. God Bless The Child
2. Oleo

Side C:

1. Woody'n You
2. When Lights Are Low

Side D:
1. In The Blues (1-2-3)

Download Copenhagen Concert from DivShare (66.88 MB)

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