June 3, 2016

Eric Dolphy - Iron Man (1963)

Eric Dolphy recorded a lot of classics in his very short career and Iron Man is one of them. The album is a 1963 session which was posthumously released in 1968. Iron Man is the only other Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration besides the essential Out To Lunch and could stand as a valuable listen on that fact alone. For the most part, Iron Man is a much looser date than Out To Lunch; the band really jams out on a relaxed post-bop swing driven by the compelling bass power of Richard Davis and Eddie Kahn (playing on separate tracks). While Iron Man isn't Dolphy's oddest work, it's not necessarily as fluid as the boppy sessions (I'm thinking of the Five Spot albums) either, and that's mostly due to Mal Waldron's piano playing being swapped for the mystical vibraphone stabs of Bobby Hutcherson. Dolphy surrounds himself with other interesting horn players. The Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons partnership makes a rare appearance on Burning Spear. Prince Lasha was a high school friend of Ornette Coleman, and as you'd probably imagine, he and his frequent partner, Sonny Simmons, play that beautifully awkward post-bop style whether they're on alto sax or flute. Dolphy also welcomes Clifford Jordan, a forward thinking tenor saxophonist who played visionary solos on his joint album with Sun Ra's saxophonist John Gilmore and on a few Max Roach albums. If that wasn't enough horn support, a very young Woody Shaw (late 60s/early 70s post bop legend) also has a few impressive contributions. Iron Man is a wild mix of a session that reveals as many of Eric Dolphy's visions as possible in 40 minutes. If you're a jazz beginner and liked Out To Lunch, this would probably a good next step.