ERIC DOLPHY — Iron Man (review)

ERIC DOLPHY — Iron Man album cover Album · 1968 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Although it was not released until 1968, the tracks for Eric Dolphy’s “Iron Man” were recorded in 1963 at the same sessions that produced the album “Conversations”. This all went down about one year before Dolphy released his art jazz masterpiece, “Out to Lunch”, so needless to say, the material on “Iron Man” is outstanding and a must have for any Dolphy fan. Although Eric and Sun Ra are both well known leaders in the world of avant-garde jazz, you do not normally hear much similarities in their music, except on this CD on which Dolphy is working with a mini big band ensemble that often carries a very Ra like sound in its arrangements and orchestrations.

“Iron Man” opens with two high energy bebop numbers that show Dolphy taking the musical innovations of Charlie Parker just one step further. Both of these tracks are sheer joy and feature great solos from Eric, Woody Shaw and Bobby Hutcherson. The large horn ensemble on these two returns on “Burning Spear”, for an ambitious arrangement that sounds like some of today’s cutting edge jazz. Two other tracks feature Dolphy in ballad duets with bassist Richard Davis. These two songs are played a bit more straight ahead, but with no lack of melodic invention and creativity.

Some versions of “Iron Man” carry a bonus track called “A Personal Statement”. This one features Eric in duet with an opera singer and a small combo performing a bizarre waltz and some other strange stuff that would be hard to describe. This track displays Dolphy’s interest in the avant-garde concert hall music of his time. There is a piano player on this one that carries a strong Sun Ra influence, and surprise surprise, its Bob James, who would later go on to become one of the most successful money making pop jazz artists ever.
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