Strange Brouhaha

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Eric Dolphy

I had this whole essay about music, but I erased it in favor of this: Eric Dolphy is one of my favorite musicians ever. He was a virtuoso avant-garde multi-instrumentalist who created stunning improvisations on the alto saxophone, bass clarinet and flute. He had one of those tragic early deaths that seem to plague jazz history--in his case, he collapsed in a diabetic coma and, because he was a jazz musician, doctors simply assumed it was drugs and left him untreated.

Here are a couple of videos of his work with another great, Charles Mingus. Mingus loved Dolphy.

First, an alto sax solo (and that drummer is no slouch!):

Second, bass clarinet:

Better than Coltrane. In fact, here's "Impressions". Trane loved Dolphy, too, and considered him a peer--but take a look at this video. I think Dolphy blows Trane away.


  • dpb: The thing that struck me about these videos is that these were probably at one time broadcast on television. Each cut was well over 5 minutes. Can you imagine anything that long on broadcast television these days?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:01 AM  

  • Some "Saturday Night Live" sketches can seem that long. Especially ones with Will Ferrell.

    But no, your point is well-taken. I think those first two were from Norwegian performances, but a show like Jazz Casual would absolutely never be shown on broadcast TV--or indeed, any television that relied on advertising. Sometimes the public access channels will show performances, but those bar bands are no Coltrane.

    By Blogger Robert, at 1:55 PM  

  • dpb: Yeah, I'm thinking you're not going to see an Eric Dolphy on Urban Theater.

    So, I'm guessing you haven't seen, "Stranger than Fiction"?

    WF gave a very understated performance. Reminded me of Jim Carrey's (an actor who absolutely could not possibly suck any worse) performance in "The Truman Show."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:02 PM  

  • I was interested in that movie, because the idea sounded so good (and Emma Thompson is funny), but the Ferrell presence turned me off completely.

    By Blogger Robert, at 3:12 PM  

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