Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Out To Lunch (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Eric Dolphy
Brims with warmth, wit and invention

The alto saxophonist/bass clarinetist/flutist had been on a hot streak when he died suddenly in 1964. Out to Lunch is as radical as its title suggests, but brims with warmth, wit and invention. Its distinctive tang owes much to the strikingly original vibraphone work of Blue Note regular Bobby Hutcherson, who favors an uncharacteristically dry, clanky, dissonant sound informed by Monk's bracing piano. (Modern vibists who echo his example still sound radical.) Dolphy as ever has an electrifying, finger-in-the-socket solo style on alto and bass clarinet, and uncommon control on flute; "Gazzelloni" is named for the classical virtuoso he deeply dug. "Hat and Beard"'s lumbering gait is an homage to Monk's unhurried pace; bassist Richard Davis and drummer Tony Williams bring it to life. The exaggerated swagger of tunes like those or "Straight Up and Down" put Hutcherson, Dolphy and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (outward bound himself) in the mood.