Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eric Dolphy - Last Recordings (1993)

Live at Le Chat Qui Pêche, Paris, France, June 11, 1964. Released March 1, 1993.

Of the four tracks on this final Dolphy concert, only one, the 19-minute Springtime appears to have never been recorded for release. It starts off promisingly with Dolphy ululating on the clarinet. Visions of free jazz appear but soon the composition begins its middle-eastern tempo. It’s the empty desert at midnight and Dolphy’s clarinet wails uncomfortably but his trumpeter and saxophonist continue to stay with tradition giving Springtime its BeBop style.

Had Dolphy more time, perhaps he could have explained his new ideas. Both Donald Byrd and Nathan Davis actually make this music accessible and easy to listen to. They fill in the melody that Dolphy disregarded. The language of discomfort never connects because the pair are busy making everything sound harmonious. They were not alone in misunderstanding Dolphy.

Wikipedia has this comment from John Coltrane: “Although Coltrane’s quintets with Dolphy (including the Village Vanguard and Africa/Brass sessions) are now legendary, they provoked Down Beat magazine to brand Coltrane and Dolphy’s music as ‘anti-jazz’. Coltrane later said of this criticism: ‘they made it appear that we didn’t even know the first thing about music (…) it hurt me to see [Dolphy] get hurt in this thing’.”

The rest of the show contains Dolphy’s earlier compositions from 1960, all very traditional. These “last sessions” have been released several times before in Europe unofficially. They became widespread when CD bootlegs arrived.

01. Springtime
02. 2.45
03. GW
04. Serene

Eric Dolphy (as, bcl)
Donald Byrd (tr)
Nathan Davis (ts)
Jack Diéval (pno)
Jacques Hess (bass)
Franco Manzecchi (dr)
Jacky Bambou (congas on 2, 3)


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