The Complete Memorial Album Sessions collects all nine tracks originally recorded for the Douglas label in 1963 and issued in various forms over the years (often in piecemeal fashion) following Eric Dolphy's death a year after the sessions were completed. Incredibly, this wasDolphy's first opportunity to record as a leader since finishing his last album (issued by Prestige) nearly two years earlier. Fortunately, Dolphy was evidently given free reign by the producer, so the personnel he chose and the arrangements are rather adventurous. A nonet including Woody Shaw, Clifford Jordan (on soprano sax), alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons, flautist Prince Lasha, and Bobby Hutcherson is heard in the tantalizing "Burning Spear." A scaled-down group showcases the leader on flute in a spirited take of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." But perhaps the most striking performances are Dolphy's three duets with bassist Richard Davis, especially on bass clarinet in Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" and flute in Jaki Byard's "Ode to Charlie Parker." To top it off, Dolphy completes the date with a powerful unaccompanied alto sax solo interpretation of "Love Me."
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden