Eric Dolphy's Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Sessions was released as a limited-edition vinyl recording in November 2018 and a CD and digital collection two months afterward. Flautist James Newton, Jason Moran and Resonance Records aided in procuring and restoring the original tapes for this box set. The multi-instrumentalist Dolphy enjoyed only a brief recording career but this collection demonstrates a wide range of interests. Free jazz, avant-garde, mainstream, and classical influences share space in this eclectic collection.
Disc One is the album Conversations (FM Records, 1963). Disc two is the mono Iron Man which was recorded in 1963 but not released until 1968, four years after Dolphy died (Douglas International Records). The final disc consists of outtakes from both sessions, highlighted by two versions of Dolphy's alto solo "Love Me" and an alternate take on the Dolphy-Richard Davis "Alone Together" duet. A previously unreleased bonus track, "Jim Crow" is a cross between free jazz and opera. At fifteen minutes, it is not one of Dolphy's finest moments but there are plenty of those such as Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" and the Prince Lasha/Sonny Simmons piece "Music Matador." Simmons, the teenage trumpeter, Woody Shaw and Bobby Hutcherson offer stirring contributions.
The two albums represent a transition period for Dolphy and even within the confines of Conversations where we hear Latin jazz, traditional and avant-garde in close proximity. But with so few years to record, Dolphy was always looking forward with one eye on the past. He began his recording career with the bebop-oriented Outward Bound (New Jazz, 1960) and never fully embraced the style again. With his final studio album Out to Lunch! (Blue Note, 1964) Dolphy shaped an avant-garde classic but with elements of free jazz and third stream in the mix. Musical Prophet highlights two somewhat overlooked albums and is a worthwhile collection for Dolphy fans.
Disc 1: Jitterbug Waltz; Music Matador; Love Me; Alone Together; Muses For Richard Davis (previously
unissued 1); Muses For
Richard Davis (previously unissued 2). Disc 2: Iron Man; Mandrake; Come Sunday; Burning Spear; Ode
to Charlie Parker; A
Personal Statement (previously unissued); Disc 3: Music Matador (alternate take); Love Me (alternate
take 1); Love Me (alternate
take 2); Alone Together (alternate take); Jitterbug Waltz; Mandrake (alternate take); Burning Spear
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