Selection 1 : GW (dedicated to Dolphy’s mentor Gerald Wilson)
The track closest in lineage to Out to Lunch
Selection 2: On Green Dolphin Street
Hubbards muted introduction gives a false sense of reassurance. One reviewer commented that his quirky original take on the jazz standard On Green Dolphin Street warranted it be renamed On Green Dolphy Street.
Freddie Hubbard (t) Eric Dolphy (as, bclar, fl) Jaki Byard (p) George Tucker (b) Roy Haynes (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 1, 1960
Stepping forwards from Mingus’s roster of brilliant sidemen, Outward Bound was Dolphy’s first title as leader and has been described, arguably, as his most accessible album, though that soubriquet won’t appeal to hard core Dolphyists: “accessibility” is as much an audience issue as an artistic one. Someone described it as one of his “less weird” albums, though its hard to know if that was intended as a compliment or a criticism: some have an appetite for “weird”. A more fitting comparison may be that Outward Bound is Dolphy’s Blue Trane
There are Dolphy fireworks here as in all his titles, perhaps with some more conventional bop musical settings – nothing very weird about Hubbard and Byard, Haynes and Tucker, and without Dolphy you would have an oustanding Freddie Hubbard quartet bop record. The contrast of purpose between Dolphy and the supporting musicians enriches the music without threatening to tear it apart. Dolphy’s fiercely original style of improvisation, the dissonant fanfare, an off-kilter melody, the subversion of the clarinet, his alto a cauldron of snaking lines running from one register to another, liable to dart in any direction, the exuberance and the passion is all on display.
The 1960 liner notes declared Outward Bound as the “new direction for jazz”. For once, the record company hype was right. If one group of beats were wont to breathe Cool… another group would now reach for a new exclamation: Far Out!
Cover: What else is there to say. Who wouldn’t prefer the original masterpiece?
My only regret is not having the New Jazz cover – even though the Esquire is “pretty good – for an Esquire”
Vinyl: Esquire 32-1243 UK first release of Prestige/ New Jazz NJ-8236
RVG machine stamp. Both sides have the very faintest capital letter “B” hand-written with something like a fine needle, near 11 o’clock on the A side and 1 o’clock on the B side below. It is not a reference to A and B sides, nor is it the “AB” commonly seen on several European-licensed and some US Prestige titles. Probably nothing.
Regular LJC readers will know this is not a “Gosh, look how much X Y Z sold for!!” site, however you are warned this is one of those rare exceptions in which money is an integral part of the story. Readers on food stamps, living from week to week on pay-day loans, or depending for the mortgage payment on Aunt Martha not making it to the end of the month may want to turn away now.
I had been after this record for many years, and always it slipped from my fingers every time, outbid at the last-minute by deeper pockets. There are only two ways to go with this Dolphy title (apart from the OJC, the Transatlantic or the Metronome editions) – US original New Jazz release, or European original release – in my case, Esquire, if you can live without that beautiful New Jazz cover. Both editions are crippling expensive due to Dolphy’s god-like status . As with Rollin’s Saxophone Colossus, the Esquire release of Outward Bound has a following from collectors in the know, as a result of which it is one of a handful of the most desired and expensive Esquires, commanding commonly up to five times the cost of other Esquire editions.
It’s worth taking a look at the relativities for what is actually a pressing from the same metalwork:
First, the top five US New Jazz auctions:
Now, the top five of Esquire auctions of the same record – only one or two copies a year come to market (UK Ebay sales denominated mostly in £GBP though buyers are often from overseas), a reminder of how small the jazz collector community is – for a planet of three trillion people. Perversely, the fewer times it comes to auction, the more intense the competition when it does.
Note three of the top five auctions claim the Esquire is DG (Deep Groove) Ha ha! Should have followed LJC – a watertight ebay case for “not as described” – renegotiate the price. I was the outbid on a number of those auctions, and it is way over my usual house limit.
Under circumstances it’s perhaps best not to go into here, I chanced on someone selling a copy of the Esquire Outward Bound. We agreed a price by exchange of email, and at that point, needed to organise the actual execution of the transaction without any of the guarantees or security of Ebay and Paypal – a timely reminder how those things take the stress out of buying and selling. As both of us had access to London, we agreed the best solution was a face to face meet, which is what we did.
This was one of my few face to face substantial cash purchases. A date, time, and location for the exchange was agreed, at a London rail terminus in the City, close by the river Thames. It didn’t help that the week before I had been re-watching one of my favourite movies “Ronin”. There is a scene, set in Paris, where Robert de Niro’s gang, who are seeking to buy weapons for a heist, meet with gangsters at a pre-arranged deserted riverside location to exchange the money for the guns.
It is a set up, of course: the gangsters have a hidden sniper on the bridge. The exchange goes badly wrong, bullets fly, and bodies go down everywhere. As I emerged from the riverside London tube station, cash in pocket, I kept scanning the rooftops to see where the record seller had positioned the sniper.
Action movie descended into farce as it turned out the agreed meeting station had two entrances and I had found my way to the wrong one. Texts rather than bullets flew back and forth, advancing mobiles in hand “Where are you?” “Walking towards you” “Can’t see anyone yet” “I’m wearing a blue blazer carrying a record – can’t be many people match that description here”. – Wait, yes, wave – Hi!
The seller turned out to be a personable young man, and we sat and chatted animatedly about music and records for some time before concluding the transaction. The vinyl was, on inspection, as near perfect as you would have hoped, and of course you are not depending on someone else’s grading as you can see it for yourself. The cash in the envelope didn’t have white blank cut sheets behind the first banknote, as in the film. It wasn’t that much anyway really. Everything went perfectly, and everyone was happy, except possibly Ebay and Paypal. Altogether, it was a much more satisfactory experience than waiting weeks for the postman to call, or not, for something that may, or may not, live up to your expectations. More business should be done this way, though of course, you can’t always rule out the possibility of a sniper on the rooftop.