Eric Dolphy: Last Date (1964) Limelight

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-front-cover-1800

Selection: The Madrig Speaks, The Panther Walks (Dolphy)

Artists

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.

Music

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.

Dolphy-Limelight-last-date-labels-1800

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?

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefold-booklet-1800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefoldinsert page1-1800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefold-page31800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefold-pages-first1800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefold-page2-t-1800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-gatefold-pages-end-1800

Dolphy-Last-Date-Limelight-rearcover-1800

Collectors Corner

ComparetheartworkNew! 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:

The blue cover: does it get Auguste’s  “paws” up or down?dolphy-last-date-japan

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.

Comparethepressing meerkat veegeeThe 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

Dolphy-Last-Date-2nd-cover-1200

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”

Dolphy-Last-Date-2nd-labels-1200

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.

Further Update

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.

Dolphy-Last-Date-True-First-Pressing

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41 thoughts on “Eric Dolphy: Last Date (1964) Limelight

  1. Though it’s an old topic I’d like to add my two cents on the original stereo Limelight as I won an absolutely pristine copy on eBay recently (for only $12 for some bizarre reason – guess everyone else’s sniping services misfired?).

    It does seem rechanelled but I’ll agree with Bob that it’s the best simulation job I’ve heard. The cymbals and most of the piano are more to the left and the bass more to the right but it’s only when listening on headphones that I notice anything amiss without actively listening for it and even then it’s not too distracting. No nasty trickery with delay, artificial reverb or the like that I can detect.

    What clinches it for me is that when I flip the mono switch on my preamp I get a bold, coherrent mono mix with every instrument including the bass clearly defined. I had a copy of the original Dutch Fontana mono that I sold off earlier this year and I can confirm that the Limelight stereo when played in mono sounds as good if not better (sounds to me like a hotter master than the Fontana, quite RVG-like!). Bottom line: I’m not sure about stereo repressings but you can’t go wrong with the original as far as I’m concerned.

  2. I just discovered the “Limelight” version in my collection. I couldn’t believe the superb sound quality and immediately had to look it up here. I bought this one at a local shop for only $15. It sounds perfect, perhaps unplayed. After washing it, I put it away and forgot I had it. It’s too late for plaster peeling volume but it’s on my agenda for tomorrow. Thanks for the fantastic writeup.

    • I really have to organize my collection. I just found that I possessed a stereo “Fontana” that was pressed in Spain. The vinyl is a little heavier and it sounds much better than my American “Limelight.” This one is still a bargain, I believe. I can’t afford the foldout UK “Limelight.” If you check popsike.com, the original mono “Fontana” pressing has been up in the stratosphere for some time and is called “The Holy Grail.”

  3. Hi, I’ve just paid a 100$ for Stereo version in NM condition. I guess you’ve really promoted this record and hence the price:)

    • I was watching that one 🙂 I was able to pick up a mono off of Gemm. Keeping my fingers crossed it’s the VG+ as described. Love me some Eric Dolphy.

    • You got a good deal. The prices for the foldout “Limelight” with the dark label is approaching $200 in the States. I suspect it is on thicker vinyl than the American stereo version and perhaps has better sound quality.

      This site is moving the markets! I think it is great thing because LJC has impeccable taste and bringing attention to musicians and artists who were fading into obscurity.

  4. This is such a timely post! I’ve been following your site for only a few weeks now, just getting back into my jazz records after some years off. Your site is fantastic by the way! Dolphy is one of my favorites from the 1960’s post-bop / avant-garde period and I picked up the Japanese version with the blue cover some years ago. I recently was looking to expand my Dolphy on vinyl and came across this site (http://www.meltingpotblog.com/2010/03/12/dig-deep-eric-dolphy-last-date-limelight-1964/). I’ve been looking for a copy ever since seeing this gorgeous gatefold! Thanks for featuring this awesome album. Would you care to divulge where you found this and what you paid? Been scoping out a few on ebay lately, seem to be the stereo version. In your opinion, why would one want the mono or stereo version over the other? To me, unless one is much more rare, the sound will be similar if your speakers are fairly close together, and obviously more different the farther apart they are.

    • Hi and welcome. The record was about £20 from a record shop where it had sat for a couple of months, shunned, because the vinyl was graded as only “Good – lots of marks”. I had a look at it and in my judgement the grading was overly severe. There were plenty of marks, most superficial and just a couple which I reckoned might affect play, and they would be of limited duration.

      Sixties vintage vinyl is often pretty tough – the depth of vinyl cut (nothing to do with being heavy vinyl or deep groove) is such that it is loud and the music stays well on top. The line contact stylus profile of my cartridge digs down the groove wall to areas less affected by superficial distressing, and the mono switch helps neutralise asymmetrical surface noise. Its not magic but it clings to the music so occasional noises are less of a distraction. Would that the vinyl was mint but life isn’t often like that. With vinyl, it’s a compromise I once saw best summed up on a T-shirt : “I’m not rich or good looking, but at least I am available”

      With Sixties I tend to prefer mono, if its a good pressing, which this is. I hate listening to music with questionable engineering judgements about where to site each instrument. My speakers are like three metres apart, there’s plenty of room for everyone in the middle.

  5. Great post and even greater comments to read. As a Dutchman I learn something new everyday: look at the rhythm section! 🙂

  6. Re: the Limelight artwork – I also have a couple of amazing Chet Baker releases on Limelight and the packaging is exceptional for both. Baby Breeze (mentioned above – lovely vocal rendition of Born To Be Blue) and Baker’s Holiday (Baker covers Billie Holliday) which both include index card type inner pages (each one slightly larger that the previous)…

  7. I have recorded in that Hilversum studio. Wonderful sounding room.
    Where did you see Hendrix? Star Hotel Croydon?

    • The Refectory, Golders Green, basement of pub, capacity as best I recall maybe 150 to 200 people, if that.

  8. According to LJC, I presume, based on the liners of the Limelight album, Café de Kroon in Eindhoven was the venue for this live concert. On my U.K. Fontana copy, producer Michiel de Ruyter writes that the recording took place in VARA’s recording studios (Hilversum??), in the presence of a selected group of people, especially invited for the occasion, to make it more you-are-there-ish. To format was 45 minutes for a radio programme to be broadcast some days later.
    Mercury/EmArcy has done recording sessions with selected guests (and booze) MG 36000, 36001; Riverside too (Studio Jazz Party – Johnny Griffin)

    • You are quite right, as always, Rudolph. It appears Epistrophy was recorded twice – once at café de Kroon July 1, 1964, and again the next day July 2, 1964 at Radio Hilversum. I assumed the “live audience” was the café but with the extra information on the Fontana liner notes about a selected audience, which I don’t have, looking more closely, the Limelight and Fontana version are both credited to the Hilversum session, and the de Kroon session is on another release “Instant Composers Pool” ICP015.

      JazzDiscography:

      Eric Dolphy Quartet
      Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute) Misja Mengelberg (piano) Jacques Schols (bass) Han Bennink (drums)
      “Cafe De Kroon”, Eindhoven, Holland, June 1, 1964
      Epistrophy Instant Composers Pool (Du) ICP 015
      * Instant Composers Pool (Du) ICP 015; I.C.P. (Du) 015 Eric Dolphy – Epistrophy

      Eric Dolphy Quartet
      same personnel – Hilversum, Holland, June 2, 1964

      34717 Epistrophy Fontana (Du) 681 008 ZL
      34718 South Street Exit –
      34719 The Madrig Speaks, The Panther Walks (Mandrake) –
      34720 Hypochristmutreefuzz –
      34721 You Don’t Know What Love Is –
      34722 Miss Ann –
      * Fontana (Du) 681 008 ZL; Limelight LM 82013, LS 86013 Eric Dolphy – Last Date

      I stand corrected. Pity – I liked the idea of that spontaneous explosion in front of a live cafe audience, but a selected audience in a radio studio will have to do.

      As to which was technically the “First Edition” – Dutch Fontana or US Limelight – I guess its a question of which country you live in, I have no information, I yield to anyone who claims to know better

      • Thank you LJC: the Café de Kroon – Eindhoven info is very interesting indeed, because we learn that the group had been in the South prior to coming to the centre of the country (Utrecht-Hilversum). According to Michiel de Ruyter they arrived on the 2nd from Antwerp, which is plausible.
        Regarding “firsts”, what puzzles me is which Dutch Fontana was first, the yellow/black photos cover or the white cover with the portrait of Eric sketched in black with violet text. I would have thought the latter. I have seen it occasionally in the shops, whereas the former was seen all over during years and years. The U.K. Fontana had only the yellow/black photos cover, so I think that is the one chosen by Fontana to be the final (and second) version.

      • I have the ICP version, and it is clearly a pub recording. Poor sound quality, but one gets the drift of the energy of the session.

  9. As I noted in an earlier comment, the American stereo original is also “rechanneled” (in the parlance of the time), though not labeled as such:

    https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/eric-dolphy-out-to-lunch-1964-blue-note/#comment-11071

    Presumably the master tape was mono, which would not be surprising since it was originally a radio broadcast for VARA in Hilversum. It would be interesting to know whether Philips ever released a “stereo” version on Fontana as well. There’s an interesting, if a little odd, documentary about the session called “Eric Dolpy: Last Date” that’s worth seeing if you can track it down.

    As for Philips: in many ways they were the primordial corporate music conglomerate, taking over control of other labels and then compromising their quality each in turn, with Deutsche Grammophon, Mercury and Decca being the formost casualties. Philips brought their “you can never have enough microphones” recording philosophy, poor mastering, and paper thin vinyl to each one. It’s doubly unfortunate because Philips themselves also had many wonderful artists such as Neville Marriner, Colin Davis and Alfred Brendel.

    I do give them credit for doing some good things in the pop world where they seemed to know what they were doing such as signing David Bowie and fostering cutting edge subsidiaries like Vertigo, Reaction and Track. It sounds like they also released some good Jazz titles on Fontana as well, although I have yet to come across one in the U.S.

    • HI Felix:

      I have grave misgivings about your claim that American stereo was rechannelled. If it was, it must be the best fake stereo these ears have ever heard, bar none. The channel separation is clearly there. Are you sure you are not talking about SECOND stereo pressing, which may (or may not) be simulated stereo?

      I know of precious few Mercury/Philips/Limelight/Emarcy electronically rechannelled stereos of ANY kind or genre; actually, off the top of my head, I can think of only four, typically historical recordings (Big Bill Broonzy Memorial Album on Mercury label, originally issued on Emarcy only in mono in 1958, with a different title and cover; Coleman Hawkins and the Trumpet Kings (Emarcy, 1965) plus first two Dusty Springfield albums on Philips), all four of which came out with a prominently displayed “electronic stereo” disclaimer. In fact, Mercury having been somewhat of a stereo pioneer in the United States, It would be completely out of character for it or for it’s parent label (Philips) to even issue fake stereos, let alone deliberately mislabel them.

      The 1976 Trip reissue of Dolphy’s ‘Last Date’ has mono records (with mono labels) packaged in a stereo cover, which would be in line with your claim, but Trip was such a nasty little semi-bootleg label, that it wouldn’t surprise me they made an LP out of homemade cassette recording. However, the CD version clearly and audibly shows channel separation, particularly on tracks where Dolphy plays flute, which, in my view, is a definitive evidence that multitrack session tapes do, in fact, exist.

    • felixstrange,
      Because of your claim I pulled out my stereo second pressing of Last Date (same matrix/stampers as the first pressing) and did some critical listening. You are correct, it is indeed re-channeled, the higher frequencies are shifted over to the right to create a “stereo” effect but there is no discreet left/right information whatsoever. It is tastefully done and still an enjoyable listening experience although not true stereo.

      • Hi Aaron;

        Hmmm. OK, duly noted. I no longer have my stereo LP (only the CD); will verify your info when the next stereo copy pops up. Again, if it was a rechannelled pressing, it is probably the best simulation job I have encountered.

      • Consider reevaluating your “critical listening”. The only shift you’re hearing is a shift in the bass and drums. The high frequencies are shifted off center only in so much as the high hat is shifted. I think Bob’s remarks above are spot on in regards to this being true stereo and it being out of character for Mercury/Philips/Limelight/Emarcy. I’m pretty sure all the confusion about this being fake stereo stems from an oddity in the mix, where in some instances when Dolphy or Mengelberg are not playing, the soundstage seems to shrink, and then opens back up when they start playing again. It’s much more noticeable with headphones on, as others here have mentioned they only noticed anything “amiss” once they listened with headphones. This anomoly is in the mono version as well, as you can hear it in the Epistrophy sound clips posted above. It takes place at about 6:12 in the rip of the US Limelight pressing and about 6:18 in the rip of the Japanese reissue, 116gm vinyl pressing, which is at the transition from Mengelberg solo into Schols’s bass solo. Best I can come up with is one or more microphone(s) were turned down during the concert at these points, or 1 of the 2 tracks was turned down during mixing/mastering to reduce noise, bleed or some other reason. Lastly, I stumbled on this website https://www.highdeftapetransfers.com/products/eric-dolphy-last-date looking for more info on this very topic. The page states “Transferred from a 15ips two track tape”. Can you record in mono using 2 track tape? Yes, but likely would not call it 2 track. I had a look around their site and they do have some titles that are only offered in mono, so it appears they would not have released Last Date in stereo if the tape was full track mono.

  10. Love the cover art, but could not find the name of the artist; can you please read it on the cover and let me know; being an jazz painter myself, like to know my painting friends

  11. I agree with Bob that an original can be original in each respective country where it was first issued. Regarding the Dutch Fontana, two issues exist. One as shown on ther very interesting Misha Mengelberg at “Discography at Discogs”, the most frequently seen, and a white cover with Dolphy’s head and violet album text, which I believe pre-dates the one at Discogs.

  12. Andy: No need to apologize for two Dolphy entries in a row. There is no such thing as too much Dolphy. One can as much OD on Dolphy as one can OD on ice cream,

    Original pressing of this title featured, as already noted, elaborate packaging and booklet. Like most of Limelight titles, there were two pressings of this title: the first as shown on this page (dark green labels with ‘limelight’ motif, textured gatefold cover, plus booklet), the second one with pink labels with greenish “starburst” logo (to the best of my knowledge, only the first pressing came out in both stereo and mono; all subsequent pressings were stereo-only (I may be wrong). Both American stereo pressings were true stereo.

    The differences between the two pressings do not end there: on the second pressing (which retains the stereo catalog number of the first pressing) the original gatefold and and the accompanying booklet are gone, replaced by a drab single-pocket cover with bare-bones graphic design. basically only front and back of the original gatefold..

    The original cover drawing was mostly black and white, but with significant shades of brown, sepia, ochre and yellow; however, the second pressing severely suppresses the colored elements of the original artwork, rendering it , essentially, a grisaille.

    The Japanese cover (which I now see for the first time) essentially mimics the SECOND American pressing (down to it’s grisaille artwork), while replacing the remaining earth tones with shades of blue.

    It is extraordinarily unusual that the Japanese label would replace original stereo recording with an electronically rechannelled version, although a few other instances of this nature can be identified.

    A note on Mercury. This title does not exist on Mercury proper (except in Japan, possibly a few other countries). However, it should be noted that Limelight was NOT – as evidenced by the elaborate packaging – Mercury’s budget label. Limelight was a full-product-line Jazz subsidiary of Mercury, intended to replace a short-lived Emarcy, which went belly up around mid-1965, presumably because the revamped Emarcy confused the Jazz collectors with the previous Emarcy incarnation which was effectively strangled by Mercury around 1959 or so.

    • “Original” denotes generation of the pressing on a specific label or in a specific market, not geographic provenance. First American pressing and first Dutch pressing can both be first, original pressings.

      • original is Dutch Fontana, 681 008 ZL, no doubt.
        as Rudolf stated, there are two different versions on Fontana.
        I had a nice talk about these two versions with him some time ago: here it is.

        hi Rudolf,
        I found this mail address on Jazz Collector and hope it works.
        I have one question based on dates and your statement on eric’s last date.
        recording date: 02.06.1964
        Dolphy’s death: 29.06.1964
        on Jazz Collector I found: Rudolf A. Flinterman Says:
        June 26th, 2009 at 8:41 am
        even if the cover of “Last Date” is an original, issued by Fontana simultaneusly in the Netherlands and the U.K., collectors should know that this version is not the first one. The first original issue of this album, issued in Holland only, had a whitish cover with violet text and a blackish portrait of Dolphy. I have seen this record in the shops when Eric was still alive. After his death, the re-packaging became “Last Date”.
        dottorjazz: there’s one copy of the record with the cover you described on sale now: 825 608 QY stereo the issue you don’t consider original is 681 008 ZL
        the name of the two different issues is the same:Last date
        My question is this:if 825 608 QY is the original and you saw it before Eric’s death in the shops,is there an edition with the same
        cover but a different name for that session ?
        If negative we can consider the rush publishing and the name “Last date” sadly prophetic indeed.
        rudolf: Thanks for the question. To be quite honest, since I wrote that comment in “jazzcollector”, I am not that sure anymore. Because I also saw this stereo issue, first issue, but entitled “last date”.
        What I am sure of, that they did a re-packaging of the same album, one with the violet and white/black which I saw in the shops, when
        it was first issued. Thereafter the one with the photos, and yellow. If the first has “last date” as a title, it was issued right after his death.

        • dottore: since I still had misgivings on the issue, I searched on the collectorsfrenzy website and found some “Last Dates” with the violet letters, which I studied in detail, also the label. I am sure now, that this one with the white cover/violet letters is the re-issue. The reason, it came out in the promotional JazzFestival series in stereo/mono. The light blue label used for these mono/stereo issues (Gravure Universelle) came after the classic black/silver labels. I think we have now settled the issue once and for all.

  13. I ordered the Limelight copy, looking forward to it. With Misha Mengelberg, whom I saw performing regularly in Amsterdam in the 80’s.

  14. Although I like the sleeve of the original pressing more, that interior artwork is beautiful. I wish that more records were issued like that.

    • I really enjoy the gatefold Limelights for that reason. Roland Kirk’s Rip, Rig and Panic is a favorite in this regard. Great record, superb presentation.

    • There are. In fact, multiple Limelight titles have beautiful booklets inside (as long as they are original pressings with gatefold covers; reissues typically delete all extras). Check out, for example “Cannonball and Coltrane” (Limelight LS-86009, 1965), essentially a reissue of ‘Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago” (Mercury SR-60134, 1960). Art Blakey volumes on Limelight also feature extensive packaging.

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