ERIC DOLPHY — Musical Prophet : The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (review)

ERIC DOLPHY — Musical Prophet : The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions album cover Boxset / Compilation · 2018 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
js
In early July 1963 Eric Dolphy went into the studio and recorded several new tunes as well as a couple of covers. He worked with a variety of ensembles ranging from mini big band to smaller combos, as well as several duets with bassist Richard Davis. Several tracks were selected from that session and released on the album that came to be known as “Conversations”. Several years after Eric’s death, more of the session was released under the title “Iron Man”. Recently the good folks at Resonance collected all these recordings together, plus some other odds and ends and a few alternate takes and released the whole thing as “Eric Dolphy Musical Prophet”, and needless to say, this sucker is bursting with goodness.

Its nice to have all these recordings in one place now because the previous albums were sometimes frustrating in what was kept and what was left out, now its all here in one package. The variety on this CD is admirable. For those who like Eric’s bebop side there’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and “Iron Man”. Dolphy displays his ultra modern compositional style with “Mandrake” and “Burning Spear” and his duets with Richard Davis show a deep meditative side that results in chamber music of concert hall quality. There is one track taken from a different recording session, and that is “A Personal Statement”, an avant-garde tone poem that features vocalist David Schwartz vocalizing lyrics about Jim Crow laws in the US south.

For Eric Dolphy fans and those interested in the more experimental side of 60s jazz, this collection is essential. Of most interest to many of us is how advanced many of Eric’s compositions were. Listening to how he shifts time signatures and tempos while playing both inside and outside of the chord changes we hear much of what is happening in jazz today. Eric was not really a ‘free player’, and he was also far from conventional, instead, Dolphy had unique takes on composition and tonality that were decades ahead of his time.
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