In 1963 (probably July, though some sources place the dates in May or June), Eric Dolphy recorded some sessions in New York with producer Alan Douglas, the fruits of which were issued on small labels as the LPs Conversations and Iron Man. They've been reissued a number of times on various labels, occasionally compiled together, but never with quite the treatment they deserve (which is perhaps why they're not as celebrated as they should be). In whatever form, though, it's classic, essential Dolphy that stands as some of his finest work past Out to Lunch. Conversations is the more eclectic of the two, featuring radical re-imaginings of three standards, plus the jubilant, Caribbean-flavored "Music Matador" (by ensemble members Prince Lasha on flute and Sonny Simmons on alto). That cut, and a classic inside/outside reworking of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" feature Dolphy leading ensembles of up-and-coming "new thing" players, which prominently feature vibist Bobby Hutcherson and trumpeter Woody Shaw. The second half of the album takes a far more minimalist approach, with Dolphy performing unaccompanied (extremely rare prior to Anthony Braxton's For Alto) on "Love Me." "Alone Together" is an over-13-minute duet between Dolphy and bassist Richard Davis, featuring some astoundingly telepathic exchanges that more than justify its length. Even if the selections don't completely hang together as an LP statement, they're united by Dolphy's generally brilliant playing and a sense that -- after several years without entering the studio much as a leader -- Dolphy was really striving to push his (and others') music forward. The results are richly rewarding, making Conversations one of the landmarks in his catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Huey