Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eric Edits

The wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am force of this brief but telling performance is a perfect example of how a focused artist can assert his individuality in a relative blink of an eye. From the first cymbal blast on, "G.W." practically explodes like water from a busted hydrant. Barrelling through the boppish head in no time at all, Dolphy is then out of the gate and charging through a compact solo that decisively announces his unmistakeable sound and approach. And much like a studio improvisation from another alto deity, Charlie Parker, it's over before you know it, leaving the desired paradoxical afterglow:You're left satiated yet wanting more.(I love how trumpeter Benny Bailey is on Dolphy's tail practically before his solo concludes; these guys are laying down the jazz equivalent of a three minute single and leaving not a second unaccounted for.)
Dolphy's work here reminds me of some of his equally brief yet satisfying statements on Oliver Nelson's classic "Blues and the Abstract Truth." Assessing just how much space he had, Dolphy would tumble in, grab your collar with a burst of weird intervals and jolting rhythms, and jump ship before you knew what had hit you. Be they miserly in length or expansive, a Dolphy solo --whether on alto, bass clarinet or flute -- had its maker's name on every note.

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