Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch at 50

From Wondering Sound:

Eric Dolphy
Cover of Eric Dolphy

Dolphy’s improvisations have a hectic, can’t-hold-me-back quality that makes Ornette Coleman sound sedate by comparison. Dolphy’s lines make acrobatic leaps over intervals too wide to sound singable, but there was always a voicelike yawp to his tone. On bass clarinet — an instrument he had all to himself as a soloist — his sound is as raw and woody as a broken branch. It bursts with abrasive and changeable overtones. Much the same is true of his alto saxophone playing. And it wasn’t just the music — it was how the rhythm section manhandled it.

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