Eric Allan Dolphy was a jazz musician who played alto
saxophone, flute and bass clarinet.
Dolphy was one of several groundbreaking jazz alto
players to rise to prominence in the 1960s. He was also the
first important bass clarinet soloist in jazz, and among the
earliest significant flute soloists; he is arguably the greatest
jazz improviser on either instrument. On early recordings,
he occasionally played traditional B-flat soprano clarinet.
His improvisational style was characterized by a near
volcanic flow of ideas, utilizing wide intervals based largely
on the 12-tone scale, in addition to using an array of animal-
like effects which almost made his instruments speak.
Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz,
his compositions and solos had a logic uncharacteristic of
many other free jazz musicians of the day; even as such, he
was definitively avant-garde. In the years after his death his
music was more aptly described as being "too out to be in
and too in to be out."