Eric Dolphy

Music Matador [Jazz Hour]

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In the spring of 1963, in the last full year of his life, Eric Dolphy recorded nine tracks in New York with producer Alan Douglas. Working with an ensemble that was mixed and matched in different configurations and included Prince Lasha on flute, Clifford Jordan on soprano sax, Woody Shaw on trumpet, Huey Simmons on alto sax, Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone (there was no pianist at the sessions), bassists Richard Davis and Eddie Kahn, and drummers J.C. Moses and Charles Moffett, Dolphy tracked material that clearly anticipated his landmark Out to Lunch album that appeared in 1964 while still providing a bridge to the more traditionally accessible work that preceded it. Dolphy delivered some of the best and most striking work of his career, whether offering full-band treatments of originals like "Iron Man" and "Burning Spear"; giving a loose and lilting calypso feel to "Music Matador"; turning Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" upside down and sideways; or playing wonderful lines on flute, bass clarinet, and alto saxophone. The sessions were split up and originally issued as a pair of LPs, Conversations and Iron Man, and have been reissued in different configurations and under different titles many times since. The complete sessions are available on CD as the double-disc Dolphy Sound from Jazz World, and that's ultimately the way to go, although this set holds up quite well as a sequence. The bottom line is that no Dolphy fan should be without the material recorded at these 1963 New York sessions. The music is brilliant no matter whether it's presented in part or in whole, but once you hear it, you'll want it all.

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