A Tribute to Eric Dolphy

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Culled from separate live concert performances at New Langton Arts in San Francisco, CA and the Berkeley Store Gallery in Berkeley, Buddy Collette(alto sax/flute) and bandleader Joe Rosenberg (soprano sax) join tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth to create a formidable front line in the ensemble dubbed Affinity. Bassist Michael Silverman and drummer Bobby Lurie support the sax trio rhythmically as they weave their Dolphy-esque patterns in and out of tonal melody and the pungent harmonic references Dolphy invented as his signature sound. All six selections are associated either directly to Dolphy's repertoire/book or with musicians who employed him. The band starts with the Booker Little-penned bop improv "Bee Vamp," with its stinging staccato melody and the saxes of Collette and Rosenberg evoking the singular sourdough audio images of Dolphy as they duel away after their solos, drums, and bass. The lilting, progressive "Booker's Waltz" has one of the members, unidentified but presumably Sudduth, playing bass clarinet alongside alto and soprano, with another fine drum solo. Ruminant flute from Collette, who taught Dolphy many tricks of the trade, crops up over the base saxes on Jaki Byard's "Ode to Charlie Parker," while that same format informs the classic melody of Mal Waldron's eminent swinger "Fire Waltz." The zinger of the set is a dour, easy-paced ballad associated with Max Roach, titled "Mendacity." On this track, the saxes take turns soloing while the others back them with support lines that shirk no harmonic overtones a la Dolphy, and Silverman takes a hefty bass solo. The finale of this 55-minute set is the Charles Mingus paen "So Long, Eric," a relatively fun and funny tune with more interactive collective participation before churning solos, another literate solo from Silverman, and all saxes trading fours in this tour de force finale. If you crave a new look at the music of Dolphy this recording does it faithfully. You should also seek the two Pro Jazz/Evidence Live at Sweet Basil recordings from the Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison/Mal Waldron/Richard Davis/Ed Blackwell quintet, and Jerome Harris' New World CD Hidden in Plain View. They collectively give rise to the notion that Eric Dolphy's music is not lost in the air, but very much alive and well. Recommended.

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