Selection: The Madrig Speaks, The Panther Walks (Dolphy)
Eric Dolphy (as, bclar, fl) Misja Mengelberg (p) Jacques Schols (b) Han Bennink (d) recorded at Hilversum, Holland, June 2, 1964 before a selected audience.
Apologies for yet another Dolphy record so soon after the last, but they are arriving thick and fast . Welcome to my new blog , the LondonDolphyCollector.
Dolphy died on June 29, 1964, in Berlin. Technically the Café de Kroon session was not the last recording date, which according to his discography was a studio session nine days later in Paris, however it would be churlish to quibble. Eric Dolphy: The Penultimate Date doesn’t quite have the right ring to it., and the qualifier Last live Date is positively goulish. One of his last dates and he is very much alive.
It is a taste of what might have followed. Dolphy is more fearless than ever, plunging in whatever direction the moment suggests. The rhythm section is no makeweight. Mengelberg artfully morphs into Monk on demand and the quartet pushes along the supporting structure to Dolphy’s high-wire acrobatics with energy. All the more remarkable for being in front of a selected live audience.
I was fortunate to see the Jimi Hendrix at a small London suburb basement club-date in early 1967, shortly after the release of Hey Joe and before the world had woken up to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I can only imagine the same stunned reaction we experienced at that time, in the presence of greatness.
Vinyl: Limelight LM 82013 mono DG, Mercury original press, 138gm vinyl
The vinyl positively rips out the speakers. A forceful bright top end captures the tortured edge of Dolphy’s harmonic assault, plunging you into the firing line. You down another jajem for strength. The dynamic attack follows right through the spectrum to the mid and bottom-end, the quartet live and kicking the crap out of the bass cones. The engineering is first-rate, whoever was responsible, this is one mutha of a recording and pressing, big, room-filling mono. One to play loud, even if it brings the plaster down from your neighbours ceilings or loosens their fillings.
The original Limelight US Gatefold Cover:
Now that’s what I call a cover. The first original Limelight I had seen. The vinyl was graded only “Good”. Despite a couple of short audible scratches it actually plays pretty nicely for the most part, and the pressing is so strong the music stays well on top, and with Dolphy there aren’t too many “quiet passages”. But isn’t the cover something?
New! Comparethecover! Over to record cover art critic artist-in-residence, Auguste Renoir de Meer Kat, who gives LJC readers this exclusive opinion of EXPR 1017 Nippon Phonogram Japan/ Polygram, Last Date Japanese re-issue cover:
Auguste pronounces his judgement: C’est quoi ce merdier ? Non!
The Japanese Polygram reissue inexplicably reduced the artwork to monochrome blue, and rechannelled the audio into fake stereo, and managed to pack all the liner notes onto the flipback. Pretty fly huh? Who were the marketing geniuses behind that? Polygram. A record company that started life as the once mighty Philips, and ended as part of the Universal Music Group, which today holds Island, Polydor, Decca, Virgin EMI and Capitol. Despite its vast technical inheritance, most of their vinyl output under labels like Polydor I would be generous in describing as mediocre.
You have compared the cover. Now over to Auguste’s sixth cousin, MC VeeGee, at another exclusive to LJC, Comparethepressing!
Allmusic declared of the track Epistrophy :
Where “Epistrophy” might seem standard fare to some, with Dolphy on bass clarinet it is based on voicings even more obtuse than the composer’s concept, bouncing along the wings of Mengelberg’s piano lines.
So it seems Dolphy out-Monks Monk.
The Japanese is possibly electronically rechannelled for Stereo. I have upped the volume of the rip by a third as it is positively anaemic compared with the US Limelight. 11 minute opening track, Monk’s classic quirky Epistrophy gets a whole lot more quirky in Dolphy’s subversive hands.
Epistrophy (US Limelight pressing): – caution, has some clicks in the quieter passages, the vinyl was not well looked after.
Now, the Japanese reissue pressing – volume turned up to comparable level.
Epistrophy (Japanese reissue, 116gm vinyl)
So now you know. I know what I think. What do you think?
UPDATE: June 30, 2013
Hat tip to BobDj, a quick trawl dredged up this second cover and labels from Limelight
It is indeed the grisaille or indeed, brunaille – I am not sure of the colour fidelity of the ebay picture. The labels are shall we say “distinctive”
This I am guessing is the second cover of the US stereo edition. Neither the first nor second editions attract much of a collector price premium. Compared with other Dolphy titles, Last Date would seem seriously undervalued. The mono is the one to go for, if you can find it.
Date and location of the recording session was June 2 at radio Hilversum, not June 1 at Café de Kroon as originally stated.
There is some question as to which edition is considered the “original” – Dutch Fontana Fontana (Du) 681 008 ZL or US Limelight LM 82013. I will duck the question as I have no idea, others can fight it out. LM82013 is the first US release, that I do know. The rest is for followers of the Church of the First Pressing to settle. Who’d be a blogger? Write a nice post, a few interesting pictures, and you find a couple of hours later the First Pressing Brotherhood are all over you like a Satanic rite.
Final Update July 1, 2013:
The Elders of the Church of the First Pressing have pronounced. It is the one on the left, the Dutch pressing on blue/silver Fontana label, not the black UK one. I don’t have either.