Selection 1: Something Sweet Something Tender
Mono Original Blue Note:
Stereo, Division of Liberty:
Selection 2: Straight Up and Down
Mono Original Blue Note:
Stereo, Division of Liberty:
LJC writes: always turn a mistake into an advantage. I have two editions of the same title, thanks to Eduard for spotting I uploaded the wrong rip. Now you can hear if you prefer mono or stereo editions. A second benefit is to judge what kind of job Liberty made of the release compared with a Blue Note original, just about two years apart. That’s a difference you pay a lot of money for. Is it worth it? You decide.
Freddie Hubbard (t) Eric Dolphy (as, bclar, fl) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Richard Davis (b) Tony Williams (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 25, 1964, four months before Dolphy’s death.
Year: 1964 – Cultural Notes
South America: riot during soccer match between Peru and Argentina leaves 300 fans dead; UK: fights at British seaside resorts between Mods and Rockers; US: University of California students storm administration building and stage a sit in. We demand… umm.. something! California brats…
In the recent LJC poll of alto players, seems Eric Dolphy has a strong following, poll-topping neck and neck with Cannonball Adderley. One of our commentators found jazz fans taste for “honkers and squawkers” surprising. We definitely have followers of the Free Tendency here as well as the Armchair, Cardigan, Pipe and Slippers Swingers. Stitt, Woods and Criss inevitably suffered by being pitted against the calibre of Art Pepper and Jackie McLean, though it was good to see them still getting a few votes. Ornette, a late addition to the ticket, showed well. Thanks to all who pressed the Vote button
So, in the Downbeat tradition, an LJC Poll Winners post, and Eric Dolphy selection, Out to Lunch
Out To Lunch is probably multi-instrumentalist Dolphy’s most adventurous album, combining as it does some established bop references with well-articulated atonal attack, staged over a large experimental canvas.The best example of this contrast in sound is the LJC selection Something Sweet, Something Tender, reminiscent of Archie Shepp’s Mac Man, which lays out a smooth layer of vibes by Bobby Hutcherson, soft and serene, a false sense of security before Dolphy launches his edgy atonal assault.
“A touch of ease drops over the soundscape before the trademark blast of jagged rips and chops runs to the edge off a cliff, and dangle, with sounds that shake jazz’s boundaries“
Not for the faint-hearted, Out to Lunch is a bible for the avant-garde and the goatee-stroking set. Along with fellow innovator Ornette Colman (and of course Coltrane) Dolphy created the foundation of the avant-garde, a lethal riposte to the predictability of swing. But significantly, it is not free-fall: more a musical bungee-jump, with its attendant adrenaline rush. No matter how far-out Dolphy gets, the solos contain a controlled experiment in danger, and a safe return to earth. Still to come, those players who believed every song should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, just not necessarily in that order. Or just only a middle.
Dolphy was spontaneous innovator who leapt from idea to idea at great speed, rather than harmonic development over a stable rhythmic line. The bass clarinet is a perfect tool for sonic attack, marking out a change from the familiar tones of the alto. This is going to be different. With three horns, he uses every available tonal range .He also emulates ‘nature’ sounds, including included imitating birds and others gathered from nature. Squawking indeed, but squawking with intent. The birds are free, it’s us that live in a musical cage.
Some of the most arresting sounds are from Anthony Williams, not yet Fusion Tony, who rarely lays down a regular beat, but plays percussion as an instrumental equal. Van Gelder’s recording here is a marvel, cymbal strikes resonate and hang suspended in mid-air. Neither Davis nor Hutcherson take on any timekeeping responsibilities, the bassist varying both line and style for each new soloist, whilst Hutcherson uses both space and silence, and avoidance of a beat – percussive and chiming – a million miles from the conventional death-by-cool mallets of Milt Jackson/ MJQ.
Most notable is the absence of a piano, and its role as an accompanist. Dolphy has no need of an accompanist, his quintet of five original voices, young guns, all walk tall. The most uneasy of those voices was Hubbard. It’s Hubbard who tries to bring things back within bounds, with fanfares and slower counterpoints to Dolphy’s impassioned solos, pulling the tune back towards bop. He was never going to wear the mantle of avant-garde trumpet, which was passed to Don Cherry.
Four months after Out To Lunch Dolphy died in Berlin, only days past his thirty-sixth birthday, it is said, as a result of mis-management of a diabetic coma, an undiagnosed medical condition of Dolphy, mistaken for a drug overdose. In a tribute to Dolphy, Mingus said: Usually, when a man dies, you remember—or you say you remember—only the good things about him. With Eric, that’s all you could remember.
Dolphy is regarded by many as a genius, and by some a saint, a holy man, who gave us some of the finest, most original and eclectic material in jazz. His music remains “contemporary” in it’s daring mix of opposites – hot and cold, fire and ice, sweet and sour, safety and danger. His early departure ensured no gradual decline into superannuated mediocrity, nor was he driven to collapse by the demon of narcotics. Unlike many contemporaries, Dolphy eschewed the siren call of the evil red poppy. Had he lived on, I believe he would have continued to move forward, towards the light.
Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4163, mono,NY labels, ear, VAN GELDER, DG s1 only
Reid Miles’ famous cover showed a Will Be Back at shop sign with seven clock hands pointing in as many directions, my personal favourite Blue Note cover. The album title and the multi-directional clock neatly summarise Dolphy’s controversial approach to time and expected musical directions, a sly metaphor for the avant-garde and a warning to expect the unexpected.
Source: Central London record store, new arrivals, a couple of years ago. As I brought it to the counter, shaking my head in disbelief, the manager responded “My, that was quick – I only just put that out“. As in music, so in record collecting, indeed most of life, everything .timing is
Despite repeated attempts, for several years I have failed to secure an original copy of Dolphy’s other masterwork, Outward Bound, as trophy hunters and Dolphy fanatics hurl wads of cash at Ebay. The last was just a couple of weeks ago, when exceptionally I bid 30% over my “house limit”, to no avail – second placed among 18 bidders. The lucky final winner paid through the nose for it instead of me. As a compulsive Ebay Psychological Profiler , or what scientists refer to as “nosy”, I checked the final Dolphy winner – not obviously a goatee-stroking hepcat: a score over a thousand, a purchase history of mainly 7″ singles, makes three bids every day, and thus far has left no feedback. Strange, but these things so often are, out to lunch.
Postscript: Captain’s Log, stardate September 29, 2017
Many questions around the deep groove and original first pressing of Out To Lunch. Somewhat unhelpfully the uploader of the master Discogs entry for BLP 4163 describes it as “deep groove” in the description, but has uploaded two different pictures of Side 1. Bummer.
Did they mistakenly assume it was deep groove on both sides, confirmed by seeing two dg labels, not noticing the duplication of Side 1?
Fred Cohen indicted the original first pressing is deep groove on Side 1 only, the same as my copy below:
However there are examples of pressings with no deep groove either side:
The new non-deep groove pressing dies appeared at Plastylite in May 1961, and the last release with a deep groove indent, just on one side, was in July 1965. In between these two dates, records generally considered original first pressings appear more or less randomly with deep groove both sides, neither side, and on Side 1 only or Side 2 only, however the presence of DG reduces over time, until the last of the old dies were worn out and discarded.
The top auctions of BLP 4163 in Popsike either mention DG Side 1 only (as per Cohen) or make no mention of it at all, neither in the positive or the negative. An echo chamber as sellers look for the most favourable description of their record for sale?
LJC Deep Dive
Digging deeper through other auction sources gives us more evidence to chew over, though a degree of uncertainty remains. The often definitive arbiter of original status, the Promo copy, could not be found (by me at least). Having looked at around 80 auctions, I am confident of the following :
- 4163 is found in only two forms: DG Side 1 only, and no DG either side. No other variation is found.
- 4163 went through possibly three pressings, as evidenced by the accompanying inner sleeves. Inner sleeves changed every quarter, 9 unique designs, and were in use over three years, advertising the latest releases. Hence the inner sleeve, when available, narrows the likely date of manufacture down to a four month period.
1964: “25 years” inner sleeve Mid ’64 – Spring ’65) – most copies (90%) with this inner sleeve are deep groove Side 1 only, but other copies with that sleeve are also found without deep groove (see Appendix for screengrabs) . The numbers suggest the initial pressing run was DG Side 1 die permutation, but another press or stamper change was required to meet demand and generated further copies with a different die combination – no deep groove. The ambiguity is inescapable because no-one can say when the first pressing run “stopped” or that a stamper change or second pressing machine disqualifies that vinyl from being “original”
1965: “26 years” inner sleeve ( Spring ’65 to late ’65) – all copies deep groove Side 1 only. More copies pressed the following year, Spring 1965 onwards, coincidentally the same pressing die permutation. Or less plausibly, the first pressing run spanned two different inner sleeves. No-one knows. To my horror, I found that my copy was paired with a 26 Years inner, deep groove Side 1 only.
1966: “27 years” inner sleeve (1966) – all copies no deep groove either side. Definitely a third pressing run prior to sale of Blue Note to Liberty , all with “ear”.
Appendix – auction samples
DG Side 1 only – 25 Years inner – probably earliest pressing
No DG – 25 Years inner – could be earliest pressing based on same inner sleeve
DG Side 1 only – 26 years inner – more copies pressed? When?
No DG – 27 Years inner – second or third pressing, definitely not “original” 1st pressing as often claimed, but same metal, same plant, who cares?
Stereo Edition – no DG – 27 Years inner – later release or second pressing?
This has to be one of the unsolved mysteries of Blue Note “originals”. My instinct says deep groove Side 1 and 25 Years inner means definitely original first pressing. No deep groove and 25 Years may also be a first pressing. No deep groove and 27 Years inner is definitely a repressing, though still original Blue Note. The deep groove Side 1 and 26 Years inner remains unexplained.