Personalities | Eric Dolphy | Sixties | Jazz & Blues

(Alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, 1928–64)

In the six years before his untimely death, Eric Dolphy became one of the most beloved and influential musicians in jazz. Brilliant on alto saxophone, he also helped to legitimize the flute and bass clarinet as viable jazz horns. Dolphy worked in relative obscurity until 1958, when he was discovered and hired by popular drummer Chico Hamilton.

He earned positive attention from the jazz press and moved on to work with Charles Mingus in 1960. Dolphy also looked into ‘third stream’ fusions of jazz and classical music with John Lewis and Gunther Schuller, as well as intense music with Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and his own groups. Oliver Nelson’s 1961 album Blues And The Abstract Truth featured the imposing front line of Dolphy and Freddie Hubbard. Out To Lunch, recorded in February 1964, is perhaps his most fully realized work. Not long after touring Europe with Mingus, Dolphy died suddenly in Berlin.

Styles & Forms | Sixties | Jazz & Blues
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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