ERIC DOLPHY — 'Out to Lunch!'

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ERIC DOLPHY - 'Out to Lunch!' cover
4.62 | 51 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1964

Tracklist

A1 Hat And Beard
A2 Something Sweet, Something Tender
A3 Gazzelloni
B1 Out To Lunch
B2 Straight Up And Down

Total Time: 42:31

Line-up/Musicians

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Anthony Williams
Trumpet – Freddie Hubbard
Vibraphone – Bobby Hutcherson

About this release

Blue Note – BLP 4163 (US)

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; February 25, 1964

Thanks to snobb, Abraxas for the updates

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ERIC DOLPHY 'OUT TO LUNCH!' reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

js
One of the most individualistic and visionary albums ever produced, “Out to Lunch” is still way ahead of its time, even 45 years after its initial release. Although the world of avant-garde jazz had been around for a few years, most of those players were still involved in “free playing” and used a very expressive approach to jazz. “Out to Lunch”, on the other hand, was totally different with its use of tight compositions and controlled sensitive ensemble improvisations. Sun Ra and Charles Mingus may have hit on some music like this, but never on the same intricate scale as Dolphy. Eric’s music also had some similarities to modern concert hall music, but there was a deceptively simple deliberateness to Dolphy’s music that made it more natural and accessible than the typical modern composition.

I’m sure this music was a shock when people first let side one spin. At first “Hat and Beard” sounds like a modern abstract bop number by Monk or Mingus; the bass walks, the vibes and horns make short interjections, but where is the melodic lead instrument? This is bop totally stripped down to its skeleton. Next the bass gets stuck and the vibes unexpectedly doubles their melody before Dolphy enters with an elastic atonal solo. And so the album continues like this with organized sections that organically segue way into each other taking the place of melody and expected form. There is a theatrical element to this music with each section representing a “scene” of sorts. Similarly, there is also an almost cartoonish narrative to this music, with different musical sections seeming to paint action and characters. In this respect Dolphy’s music was a throwback to the early big band music of Fletcher Henderson who was always a favorite soundtrack source for cartoonists in the 30s.

The jazz world was slow to pick up on Dolphy’s innovations at first. Most of the avant-garde preferred their freedom, but artists such as Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill and The Art Ensemble of Chicago began to vary their material, although none could ever produce something with the appealing populist effect of “Out to Lunch”. Since the mid 80s, the world of avant-garde jazz has expanded greatly in its scope and Dolphy’s place as a revered innovator is assured for all time. Back in the late 60s, it was possibly the art rock crowd that jumped on Dolphy’s music the most. Ambitious rock composers such as Fred Frith, Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp found that Dolphy’s direct expressions worked well in an experimental rock context.

“Out to Lunch” is one of the finest pieces of music the 20th century has to offer. Give it a listen, nothing else in the world sounds like this one. Dolphy’s compositions are one of a kind, and the support he gets from musicians like Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson and Richard Davis is pure genius.

Members reviews

Warthur
Out to Lunch is an avant-bop masterpiece which paved the way for future musical experimentation - in particular, it seems to have exerted a powerful influence over Frank Zappa, who composed The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue during the avant-jazz era of the original Mothers of Invention (as captured on Weasels Ripped My Flesh). More intricate and complex than the free jazz which dominated the avant-garde jazz scene at the time, Dolphy and his colleagues rattle out brilliant performances which smash the conventions of jazz into tiny pieces over the course of the album. What's also notable about the album is that it manages to be actually kind of accessible without making any concessions to accessibility, if you see what I mean - you can sit down and listen and enjoy straight away without having to train your ear to really appreciate what Eric is doing here.

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