Diana’s Corner: Freya’s Lick of the Day: Eric Dolphy, Something Sweet, Something Tender

It’s technically an entire song, at 1:29, but the whole thing, in my mind, qualifies as a Lick Worth Learning.

From the 1999 discovery of a concert recorded March 10, 1963, at the University of Illinois at Champaign, The Illinois Concert is seven tracks long, but far and away the best (in my mind) is the shortest: Something Sweet, Something Tender.

Nearly four and half minutes shorter than its parent track on Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, this version is all that’s wonderful about it, in concentrated form.

Performed entirely rubato on bass clarinet, with occasional smoky flourishes from bass and piano to give him enough clouds to float among, it’s typical Dolphy, but at his best: huge intervallic leaps ultimately whimsical, bittersweet and even sad.

1:26 to 1:29 is to me the best part, even though it barely qualifies as a lick: a gentle glissando from the top of the bass clarinet to the bottom. Like a quick review of one’s life, with an ache for those we miss.


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