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Eric Dolphy

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Eric Dolphy
Guillaume Belhomme
112 Pages
ISBN: # 3955931463
Wolke Verlag
2023

Considering the indelible marks he has left on the music in his short time with us, the trailblazing recordings both as a leader and sideman to John Coltrane and Charles Mingus; the conceptual application of harmonic and baroque melodic theory, the overall sound of his instrument—the scholarship on Eric Dolphy remains a very slim study. It is almost as if the man himself had decreed to the contemporaries and generations after him to read if you want, but listen to learn.

Now translated into the language of empire, from the 2018 French-only edition, Guillaume Belhomme's Eric Dolphy gives us, in short biographical sketches, a restless Dolphy, a player of instinct and wisdom who seemingly moves from one gig and one session to the next like a quiet, gifted spirit with the wind at his back, blowing and fluttering as he wished, honking and loose when he didn't. A man who saw music as his only mission.

Dolphy the plangent wailer whose horn bade Coltrane on to more adventurous realms. Dolphy, the careening boxcar beside Mingus. The man who, along with Ornette Coleman, makes Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (Atlantic, 1961) a music we still celebrate today.

Even with all the great music recorded in his lifetime and released then and thereafter—Outward Bound (New Jazz, 1960),  The Berlin Concerts (Inner City Records, 1961), Out to Lunch! (Blue Note, 1964); Cornell 1964 (Blue Note, 2007), Coltrane's The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (Blue Note, 1997)—it is Dolphy's short, immediate life that shadows over his ill-fated 36 years. And, despite the sometime glitchy translation, Belhomme's deep-hearted narrative does the man, his advocates, his successors and his listeners a most welcome justice.

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