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Eric Dolphy: A Musical Biography And Discography

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In his tragically short life (1928–1964), Eric Dolphy was a titanic force in the development of the sixties avant-garde (or "new thing") from the hard bop of the late fifties. The searing intensity and sonic exploration of his work on alto sax, clarinets, and flute derived in part from the concurrent innovations of Coltrane, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Andre In his tragically short life (1928–1964), Eric Dolphy was a titanic force in the development of the sixties avant-garde (or "new thing") from the hard bop of the late fifties. The searing intensity and sonic exploration of his work on alto sax, clarinets, and flute derived in part from the concurrent innovations of Coltrane, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Andrew Hill, among others; previous jazz styles such as New Orleans and bop; various non-Western musics; and modern classical music (e.g., Varese). Dolphy pioneered extended solo jazz compositions, was prominent in the "third stream" movement (led by John Lewis and Gunther Schuller), and remains a major influence on musicians today for the personal, speech-like inflections of his playing. Jazz scholars Simosko and Tepperman examine every aspect of this stunning musical achievement from Dolphy's early big band work and association with Chico Hamilton to his own last groups in Europe, emphasizing the rich legacy of his recordings. Now completely updated to include the most recent discoveries concerning his life and recordings, this book will long stand as the definitive treatment of Eric Dolphy's music.


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In his tragically short life (1928–1964), Eric Dolphy was a titanic force in the development of the sixties avant-garde (or "new thing") from the hard bop of the late fifties. The searing intensity and sonic exploration of his work on alto sax, clarinets, and flute derived in part from the concurrent innovations of Coltrane, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Andre In his tragically short life (1928–1964), Eric Dolphy was a titanic force in the development of the sixties avant-garde (or "new thing") from the hard bop of the late fifties. The searing intensity and sonic exploration of his work on alto sax, clarinets, and flute derived in part from the concurrent innovations of Coltrane, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Andrew Hill, among others; previous jazz styles such as New Orleans and bop; various non-Western musics; and modern classical music (e.g., Varese). Dolphy pioneered extended solo jazz compositions, was prominent in the "third stream" movement (led by John Lewis and Gunther Schuller), and remains a major influence on musicians today for the personal, speech-like inflections of his playing. Jazz scholars Simosko and Tepperman examine every aspect of this stunning musical achievement from Dolphy's early big band work and association with Chico Hamilton to his own last groups in Europe, emphasizing the rich legacy of his recordings. Now completely updated to include the most recent discoveries concerning his life and recordings, this book will long stand as the definitive treatment of Eric Dolphy's music.

30 review for Eric Dolphy: A Musical Biography And Discography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    The great musician and composer Eric Dolphy is little known outside of jazz circles. A so-called "average person" might have heard the names of John Coltrane or Miles Davis, but I doubt that more than one or two percent of randomly interviewed people would associate the name Dolphy with jazz. Yet, he was a giant of that genre and one of the most influential musicians/composers of the 1960s, which is the only jazz period that interests me (I do not "get" the pre-Sixties or post-Sixties jazz). Vlad The great musician and composer Eric Dolphy is little known outside of jazz circles. A so-called "average person" might have heard the names of John Coltrane or Miles Davis, but I doubt that more than one or two percent of randomly interviewed people would associate the name Dolphy with jazz. Yet, he was a giant of that genre and one of the most influential musicians/composers of the 1960s, which is the only jazz period that interests me (I do not "get" the pre-Sixties or post-Sixties jazz). Vladimir Simosko's and Barry Tepperman's "Eric Dolphy: A Musical Biography & Discography" is a very short book about Dolphy's musical trajectory so tragically interrupted by his death from a diabetic condition at the age of 36. The book is a well-researched chronology of Dolphy's engagements and performances, as a sideman and as a band leader. There is precious little in the book about Dolphy's personal life. I would love to know more about him, particularly because he has been frequently described as a deep, gentle, generous, and caring person. John Coltrane, the only musician whom I would put above Dolphy in the pantheon of jazz, says the following about Dolphy: "[...] my life was made much better by knowing him. He was one of the greatest people I've ever known, as a man, a friend, and a musician." The authors' work has been largely wasted on me as I do not have even the slightest understanding of musical theory; still, I love reading about some of my favorite pieces, such as "God Bless the Child", or some of my favorite albums like "Africa/Brass" by John Coltrane Quintet with Eric Dolphy. Maybe I have not listened to a lot of flute music, but to me no one has ever played this instrument better than Dolphy. He is also widely acknowledged as a virtuoso of bass clarinet. To my unsophisticated, completely untrained ear, many of Dolphy's works are some of the most brainy, intellectual music I have ever heard. In a certain sense, the joy of listening to it resembles the joy of a viewer of an abstract painting, when suddenly one transcends the jumble of shapes and colors and "gets" the picture. Eric Dolphy died on July 9, 1964 in Berlin, Germany. There are rumors that doctors ignored his diabetic coma and instead attributed the artist's state to substance abuse, based on stereotyping; after all he was black and a musician (as far as I know, Dolphy did not use drugs). Coltrane was allowed only 41 years of life, Dolphy 36. World music would be very different today if they had a chance to live and create throughout the average human lifespan. Good book. A pity it is so short and skimpy on biographical details. Three stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jake Adam

    The discography/gigography/session index is invaluable, but I wanted to get more of a story from the book, which probably means I wasn't reading the book I needed to be reading. It's a good book to read, packed with lots of factual information. The discography/gigography/session index is invaluable, but I wanted to get more of a story from the book, which probably means I wasn't reading the book I needed to be reading. It's a good book to read, packed with lots of factual information.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tony Gleeson

    There oughta be a dozen books on Eric Dolphy. He oughta be as well-known as Coltrane or Miles. He was a bona fide genius, sui generis to this day.This is as good a book as one can find on Dolphy because, to my knowledge, there are only two books ever written about him. It's a shame. There oughta be a dozen books on Eric Dolphy. He oughta be as well-known as Coltrane or Miles. He was a bona fide genius, sui generis to this day.This is as good a book as one can find on Dolphy because, to my knowledge, there are only two books ever written about him. It's a shame.

  4. 5 out of 5

    j_ay

    All too short...simply amazing there is no longer bio of Dolphy written...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    this is a really great read on one of the more original voices in the early post-jazz movement. concise and and lots of info on an all-too-short visit on planet earth by one of the premiere angels of the alto saxophone.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Williamcharles

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Jayanthi

  8. 4 out of 5

    Misty

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  10. 5 out of 5

    Denton Peter McCabe

  11. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Engstrom

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wes Freeman

  14. 4 out of 5

    Igor Poletti

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian Turner

  16. 5 out of 5

    Colin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  18. 4 out of 5

    C. Scott

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ulf Wong

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Monaghan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Timothée Keller

  22. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brent

  25. 5 out of 5

    Atlantis

  26. 5 out of 5

    MattW

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joek

  30. 5 out of 5

    Og Space

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