Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch! (Blue Note Records) - Recorded 50 years ago today. I first heard this album in early 1999 during my first year at university. I’m not sure exactly what made me buy it – I must have read something about Eric Dolphy or maybe heard him via Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz (I heard it around the same time).
There was something about this album that grabbed me – a haunting, mysterious quality. In the months that followed I raided the library for more of Dolphy’s work (Far Cry, At the 5 Spot and Out There among others) and eventually he was the subject of my Jazz History essay.
Back then; it was all about Dolphy’s playing – and it’s still staggering. Having an anniversary listen this evening, it’s the ensemble has a whole that strikes me. Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis and Tony Williams all contribute to the album, with the bass clarinet, flute and alto sax of Dolphy offering a variety of colors and textures. There is plenty of communication between the players without things getting overly busy. In fact, there is a lot of space especially when compared to some playing from that era.
I feel with all the attention that fellow saxophonists Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane got at the time; Eric Dolphy has been somewhat overlooked by many. Out To Lunch! is a great place to start and be sure to check out his playing on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. Enjoy!