September 13, 2015

Eric Dolphy - The Illinois Concert (1963)

The Illinois Concert features Eric Dolphy in fantastic live form at the start of his brief stint with Blue Note before his early death. The recording quality is exceptional and features live versions of Dolphy's most well-known compositions and interpretations. The most fascinating part of the session is the inclusion of a young Herbie Hancock on piano and his natural flexibility in reading Dolphy and making the leader's weird leaps sound absolutely beautiful. It's a tough inner-debate for me in deciding if I like studio or live Dolphy more. Sure, studio sessions give an innovative band plenty of room to nail down compositions as daring as Dolphy's, as seen on Out To Lunch, but hopefully nobody denies that some of the magic heard in Hancock and Dolphy trading off long solos on a 20 minute version of the sleek Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise is lost in translation. A voracious live jazz record that would have been canonized had it been released 35 years earlier.