Eric Dolphy The Illinois Concert

The just-issued The Illinois Concert is a must for passionate Eric Dolphy fans. Recorded at the University of Illinois on March 10, 1963, this is an important document of an under-recorded period in his career. Apparently, this performance took place right after a panel discussion on "Approaches to Improvisation" dissed both him and his music. As a result, he turns in a spellbinding performance for every second of this CD. His bass clarinet showcase, "God Bless the Child," is a standout even among the many recordings he made of this song. The group includes a then 22-year-old Herbie Hancock who has not developed his trademark sound he perfected with Miles Davis. Hancock is very effective in underlining and exploring abstract melodies with Dolphy, but his own solos are not as confident as they would be later in his career. Intriguingly, the U of I brass band join the quartet for the last two cuts on the CD, which represents one of the very few times Dolphy arranged and recorded for a large ensemble under his leadership. "Red Planet" features deadly Dolphy alto above the rumble of French horns, while "G.W." is stage band macabre. This is not the best Dolphy record available, but even casual fans will love the especially high calibre of Dolphy's playing. (Blue Note)