May is Eric Dolphy Month! or: Why Eric Dolphy is The Muse of Choice, or: How, under the right fingers, the Bass Clarinet can transcend mortal experiences

This, from the realm of pure creation: unfettered imagination and its corresponding diction…..

“Out in the waygoneshere, bullet-proof funky,” indeed.  The above image of Dolphy was the old banner image for the previous incarnation of Sawtooth– I use his images like Neanderthal man used cave paintings of Gods to summon and invoke  and appease them….

Consider this the intro to a series of pieces collectively being “Eric Dolphy Month” (May 2011), where we’ll listen back at his works, as well as the book Eric Dolphy: A Musical Discography & Discography.

I have this on a T shirt...

Ben Ratliff noted once that Dolphy’s distinct technique (huge intervallic leaps, speech-like phrasing) was, in the end, “not particularly influential.” Perhaps unfortunately very true. Perhaps some fanaticism might jibe that…. Perhaps some sculpted lunacy might inspire/infect others… and adjure them….

It’s hard to state how much I love the way Dolphy plays.  It’s like that natural tendency you’ve discovered about yourself to abuse alcohol/ cocaine/ heroin… whatever drug it is you love(d)…. I wanna keep hearing him and hearing him….

He goes where he wants when he wants. He gets away with it. He exports alien, yet-improbably-human melodies and makes them work with the ear.

Metal heads dig him too….

Here, the impending audio evidence:

Live at the Five Spot III and Memorial Album (aka III)

Charles Mingus Sextet w/ Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

Iron Man

The Illinois Concert

Eric Dolphy in Europe,Vol.s 1, 2 and 3

Outward Bound

Berlin Concerts

Far Cry

Wherever I Go

Candid Dolphy

Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Live in Germany, 1961)

Looking Ahead (Ken McIntyre and Eric Dolphy)

Screamin’ The Blues (with Oliver Nelson)

Straight Ahead (with Oliver Nelson) and, finally,

Last Date.

All Dolphy, Most All The Time.

Back soon.


  1. I liked Eric Dolphy in the context of his playing with Charles Mingus and the Bass Clarinet has a very distinctive sound that is like a priimordial Love cry, earthy-ness…Certain Cello players have this other worldly celestial feel to their playing…Somebody above mention an Eric Dolphy T-Shirt they have…It was one that I got back in the seventies and I have forgotten where I purchase that T-Shirt…It was Badddddd !! I may have got it through Coda the Canadian Jazz magazine, the color was Tan and Brown with Dolphy and the Bass Clarinet…All I can say is that everyone loved that T’ Shirt…Eric Dolphy was onto something, really cutting edge of improvise music and the New Jazz was also a form of protest against the Vietnam War, racial inequality, social dis-ease, those were times that brought about change revolution in Africa and we are still struggling, this old ship of Zion is sinking and no body knows how to turn it around and Eric Dolphy’s music was about a New Dawn~~the dawning of Aquarius….I would like to see a movie done on Dolphy’s life…this music is still vital and it still sells; Eric Dolphy want be placed in a neat corner of the music archives in libraries…let me close by saying the music retain it’s memory of salvation and regeneration for the world stage of new savants and things will come and go and we may not be here, but Eric Dolphy’s music of life/force will endure and inspire…Peace, Edwin

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