How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Eric Dolphy is now recognized as an innovative genius, but in the ’60s he was ignored by the public and derided by critics and many of his peers. Originally influenced by Charlie Parker, Dolphy was a master alto saxophonist/flautist and was one of a handful of musicians who utilized the bass clarinet in a jazz setting. The Illinois Concert was taped at the University of Illinois in 1963 and represents a major addition to the Dolphy discography. The rhythm section, a young Herbie Hancock (piano), Eddie Khan (bass), J.S. Moses (drums), is augmented by the University of Illinois Brass Ensemble on Red Planet and G.W. Dolphy’s splendid improvisations deftly straddle the line separating hard bop and free jazz; alternating between melodious sweetness and harsh intensity. The highlight of the set is Dolphy’s unaccompanied bass clarinet tour de force, God Bless The Child. Except for his under-miked flute on South Street Exit (which fails to detract from Dolphy’s brilliant solo) the sound is very good. Kudos to Blue Note for unearthing this long-buried treasure! (####)