Eric Dolphy And Booker Little, Memorial Album

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Memorial Album

Eric Dolphy
A legend and a lesser light, bringing out the best in each other.

So what if Little is the unjustly forgotten Memphis trumpeter's real surname? He still counts here — boy, does he still count. This is the last of three live albums drawn from the Dolphy quintet's legendary two-week stand at the Five Spot in Greenwich Village in 1961; the music is firmly rooted in bop but just as clearly straining to break free. Little's solo work combines luminous lyricism with smears of dissonance on his own "Booker's Waltz." Playing off a slightly more frenzied Dolphy, he never seems to run out of ideas; the two men also blow rich harmonies together. Though still under the sway of Clifford Brown, Booker is getting comfortable here with his own sound; surely the history of jazz trumpet would be audibly different if the 23-year-old prodigy hadn't died of uremia less than three months later.