Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Experts in quality archives, Resonance Records, have dug up an essential Eric Dolphy gem. After leaving Prestige/New Jazz Records, the saxophonist worked during the summer of ‘63 with producer Alan Douglas (famous not only for his recordings with Jimi Hendrix but also for being behind the glass for the album Money Jungle with Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach). This meeting resulted in two albums: Iron Man and Conversations. The sessions were concocted with the crème de la crème of avant-garde jazz at that time: William "Prince" Lasha on flute, Huey "Sonny" Simmons on alto saxophone, Clifford Jordan on soprano saxophone, Woody Shaw on trumpet, Garvin Bushell on bassoon, Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Richard Davis and Eddie Kahn on double bass and J.C. Moses and Charles Moffett on drums. Fast forward to January 2019: all the sessions from 1st and 3rd June 1963 have resurfaced, including some alternate takes. The tapes had been stored in a suitcase by Dolphy himself with other personal belongings just before he flew off on his last European tour, during which he died in Berlin on June 29th 1964 at the age of 36. The Californian had entrusted the suitcase to friends. Years later, it was recovered by flautist James Newton, who went through its content with Zev Feldman from Resonance Records and the pundits of the Eric Dolphy Trust in Los Angeles.
With two and a half hours of music, Musical Prophet is a major document in Eric Dolphy's artistic evolution. A recording comparable to Out To Lunch!, his masterpiece for Blue Note released seven months later. But this is by no means a draft. Here, the group embark on trails both well-trodden and unexplored. Without cutting themselves off from their elders (Jitterbug Waltz by Fats Waller opens the album), they blow hot and cold and dare to explore all posibilities. Depending on the weapon of choice (alto saxophone, flute or bass clarinet), Dolphy expresses different qualities. Melancholic and introspective, almost as if irritated, if not panicky, he is constantly matched by accomplices who are just as quick as he is. And the musical freedom never erases the melodic framework. 56 years later, this emerging jazz has not lost any of its spontaneity and it would easily make some 2019 productions obsolete... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz