Review by Ms. Ann
1964 Blue Note Records
Hat And Beard 8:24
Something Sweet, Something Tender 6:02
Out To Lunch 12:06
Straight Up And Down 8:19
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet
Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, composer
Richard Davis, bass
Anthony Williams, drums
Bobby Hutcherson, vibes
Recorded: New York 25 February 1964
Recording Location: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cl
“Out to Lunch” with all music composition by Eric Dolphy is an exploration of time across a soundscape of harmony. During this journey Time is elastic. It shrinks time, expands time, explores syncopation of time, layers different beats across time, wobbles time, escapes time, the beat goes on in time. It includes swing time, strut time, disturbance of time, and metric normality. The music of this album carefully looks at the up, down, around and through of time in detail. It is a bold initiative of Eric Dolphy to connect with his audience showing a creative vision with passion and conviction. This fearless leap of creative vision is what brings new meaning to his work, makes it fresh, complex and interesting to listen to no matter how many times you have played the album. This is modern progressive jazz done at the level of mastery of this ensembles capabilities resulting in music that transcends time.
It is important to acknowledge that the music of Eric Dolphy is heightened by the ensemble playing with him. You are inspired by the greatness of the folks you keep around you. The members of the quintet are awesome. Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, aged 25 at the time, had already appeared on Dolphy’s 1960 album Outward Bound. Three years into a strong recording career with Blue Note, Bobby Hutcherson masterfully takes his instrument into complex environments. Richard Davis is a multi genre Chicago musician who centers the ensemble with his commanding presence. Tony Williams is 18 years old at the time of this recording, and went on to play drums for Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.
Hat And Beard is a tribute to pianist Thelonious Monk who had a unique collection of hats and a beard. It is Richard Davis’s playing that gives Hat And Beard a unique bounce, in addition to an ebb and flow to time. Eric Dolphy brings a vocal-like quality to his bass clarinet solo, there is no sound so unique and enthralling. Freddie Hubbard comes to the party with an intense and lyrical solo which is the complete antithesis of what’s gone before. Tony Williams on drums seamlessly shifts 5/4 time to 9/4, and it must be noted the creative way in which he works the cymbals, as it is brilliant.
Somethings Sweet, Something Tender offers us an atmospheric mass that could illustrate and fill a German expressionist film. The song starts out as a gorgeous minor key duet with Dolphy beguiling us into his bass clarinet while accompanied by the captivatingly brilliant Richard Davis on the bowed bass. In this beautifully lyric and soulfully mournful piece the collective takes precedence over individuality in search of that subtly unhinged atmosphere.
Dolphy whips from idea to idea at great speed, impressive
lightness, and dexterity in his well-known flute solo for Gazzelloni. Bobby Hutcherson’s vibes are startling and attention-getting. I love the sharp-angled melody he and Dolphy (on flute) lock into in the beginning of Gazzelloni before ricocheting off into a background rhythm.
Out To Lunch is the most accessible tune on the album. You get the march-like melody laid out first thing. Then everybody solos all the time staying entirely within the context set by the composition with a constant pulse given by Tony underneath. I love the vibe solo (Bobby Hutcherson) with all of its extended explorations, flowing into duet with Davis on bass, cascading smoothly to Davis’ free time play time. The tune moves into a short snappy conversation between trumpet and saxophone, and returns to our march-like melody at the end. Huzzah.
Straight Up and Down was inspired by the careful walk of a drunk striving to stay upright. Eric solos on alto saxophone with angular energy and an alluring excited attitude. This tune is a journey of tension and release, sway and capture to correct. It is playful and full of humor.
In conclusion, spinning this album is like sitting at a table loaded with five fascinating creative free thinkers having an engaging conversation on five totally separate topics while exploring all the available nuances of each soundscape to which you answer “Indeed” and “Well done”.