two I am trying to recall the first Eric Dolphy LP I purchased, I am certain it was from Ear Shot records on Montezuma in Santa Fe, NM. I am not entirely sure but I think it was Vintage Dolphy. It has that awesome, iconic picture of him on the cover, where he looks like a Pharoah or wizard. There are always a number of individuals where you say to yourself, "What if he had lived?"
Eric Dolphy is one of those few, like what if Hendrix lived? Or Charlie Parker? Or Ritchie Valens? Dolphy is like that, too. Dolphy laid the foundation for many alto saxophonists that followed. I see Dolphy as an important influence on both Anthony Braxton and John Zorn, artists who have diverged and converged multiple times over a period of 40 some years. I can only imagine what Dolphy might have worked on had he lived through the 70s and 80s. His death was unexpected and early, the victim of a heart attack brought on by diabetes.
Dolphy got up early every morning so he could log in several hours of practice before his day began. Dolphy comes from a generation where abilities were valued over possessions and materialism. Dolphy was not materially wealthy, but his spirit and his art was rich. For every consumer who ignores his work, there are hundreds who create themselves and happen to love his work. Those of us who have retained that drive to rise early and practice, relate to his work ethic. Some people learned to lie at a young age and logged in 10,000 hours of lying to their parents, maybe they are CEOs now, maybe they are in prison. Dolphy logged in 10,000 hours of experience on the flute, the bass clarinet, and the alto saxophone. And his work has lived on into the 21st century and he is a respected heir to the likes of Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus.
I always earn admiration for someone who recognizes Dolphy's image without consulting Google, or without asking anyone who that is, because it shows a true appreciation for art and for true music. I think jazz music was the first truly underground music and whether or not someone appreciates underground hip-hop or indie rock or whatever, just ask them about the Beatles and the Stones and Dolphy and Mingus, the way they guide the conversation will reveal everything about their understanding of American culture. All of these artists were working in the same epoch, but Dolphy and Mingus were not actively promoted by mainstream recording companies.
Afterall, am I fucking British? Or am I fucking American?
Composer, Artist, Writer