Selection 1: Feathers (Hale Smith)
Selection 2: Serene (Dolphy)
Something both malevolant and beautiful about the avant-garde’s treatment of tenderness, peace and tranquility, exposing flashes of barely concealed danger, somewhere Freddie Krueger is loose in Snow White’s boudoir.
Eric Dolphy (as, bcl, fl, cl) Ron Carter (vc) George Duvivier (b) Roy Haynes (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 15, 1960
Year: context 1960
Wanting to join the exclusive nuclear club, France tests its first atomic bomb, in the Sahara Desert. Luckily most Saharans were out, returning home only to find the place looked like a bomb had hit it. Sand everywhere. After cleaning up the mess, Sahara joins the growing Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
A month after recording with Mingus at Antibes, Out There is Dolphy’s second album as leader, the follow up to Outward Bound.
Dolphy stands uniquely original with his veritable arsenal of wind instruments – alto, bass clarinet, flute, b-flat clarinet, Kalashnikov AK-47. Not content with mayhem in the lead instrument department Dolphy doubles up in the bass department, bringing in Ron Carter on cello beside George Duvivier on bass, and just to confuse everyone, the unflappable swing drummer, Roy Haynes. Even before the needle hits the groove you know you are going to be in for an unpredictable listening experience. This was one of the few records I have been initially frightened to play, listening in safety from behind the sofa.
One can only imagine how strange it must have sounded to audiences in 1960, not previously exposed to such eclecticism. Nowadays we think we have heard it all, but not like this.Released three years before Dolphy let loose the avant-garde bible Out to Lunch, Out There is more ambitious and jagged than Outward Bound. Compared with the music around it in 1960, it is an unusual album by any standard, approaching tonality in a non-linear and harshly harmonic way few others, before or after, have ever attempted.
Vinyl: Esquire 32-153 UK first release
It’s a change from their usual budget-typography-and-graphics, homing in on the persona of Dolphy at play rather than Prestige’s choice of surrealist painting, though that too seems quite fitting to the music in its own way. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find – affordably, as an original.
Like all other Esquire 32-000 series, it is pressed with original Prestige metalwork – an RVG master – though no indication of the US manufacturer, no AB. The bonus, as a UK pressing, it is free from the risk of recycled vinyl contamination which marrs some original New Jazz pressings.
Rear cover conforms to the expected chronology, of later Esquire first pressings
London record store in the fashionable West of London still awaiting delivery of its “LJC Shops Here” blue plaque. An unexpected find, one of the rare pleasures of flicking through shelves of lesser works, stops you in your tracks, however, inflicting some pain in the credit card department. You wouldn’t expect fine champagne for the ears for the price of a can of lager would you? The store manager knows his stuff. Unfortunately.
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