Last Friday, Resonance Records released the deluxe 3CD and digital edition of Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions – the first official previously-unissued studio recordings of Eric Dolphy in over 30 years. This CD edition follows the deluxe limited-edition, 180-gram 3LP gatefold set that was released at the end of November 2018. The album includes 85-minutes of never before released material and is being released in partnership with the Eric Dolphy Trust and the Alan Douglas Estate with remastered high-resolution monoaural audio transferred directly from the original tapes.
Captured after leaving Prestige/New Jazz Records, and just before recording the timeless classic Out to Lunch! album, Musical Prophet is a 3LP/3CD set that contains the under-appreciated masterpieces Conversations and Iron Man recorded in New York City on July 1 and 3, 1963. Originally produced by Alan Douglas — most well-known for his association with Jimi Hendrix, but who also produced classic jazz albums such as Money Jungle with Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach — the tapes had been stored in a suitcase with Dolphy’s personal belongings and given to Dolphy’s close friends Hale and Juanita Smith just before he embarked on his fateful European trip in 1964.
Years later the contents of the suitcase were given to flutist/educator James Newton, who had developed a close relationship with his mentor Hale Smith and Hale’s wife Juanita in the late 1970s. Then in 2015, Newton connected with Zev Feldman at Resonance and they began working in conjunction with the Eric Dolphy Trust in Los Angeles on this definitive edition of Dolphy’s 1963 New York studio sessions. These tapes were recorded in mono, unlike the stereo versions that were used for the original studio albums and are the only known master sources in existence.
Producer Zev Feldman says about this project, “This is truly the holy grail of Eric Dolphy recordings. To have a whole album’s worth of studio recordings that have never been released before, and of this level of quality and creativity, from a legendary figure such as Eric Dolphy is a major event. I knew this release would call for one of the most elaborate and definitive packages we’ve ever assembled at Resonance with numerous essays, interviews, statements, and quotes from a wide variety of voices who knew and were inspired by Dolphy. I’m very proud of what we’ve assembled, and I think Dolphy fans will be ecstatic about this release.”
The LP/CD packages are beautifully designed and include exhaustive booklets replete with rare and never-before-published photos (several of which are in color!) by Chuck Stewart, Jean-Pierre Leloir, Val Wilmer, Hans Harzheim, Lennart Steen, Roger Marshutz and many others, plus reproductions of the original album covers for Conversations and Iron Man. The five essays cover different aspects of Eric Dolphy and this music, starting with co-producers Zev Feldman and James Newton’s accounts of how this album came to be and what Dolphy’s music means to this world.
Newton says in his essay, “Eric Dolphy taught us to listen much more carefully to voices from all around the world, but never to forget that the substantially personal and complex feelings within field hollers remained in the mix.” Jazz scholar and author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, Robin D.G. Kelley, gives us the full historical context of these recordings and Dolphy in 1963. Japanese Dolphy scholar Masakazu Sato and Douglas label manager Michael Lemesre give us accounts of Dolphy’s impact in Japan and of producer Alan Douglas’ role in these recordings and relationship with Dolphy.
For the release, Resonance has gathered a large congregation of voices to reflect, remember and reexamine the person, the music and the legacy of Eric Dolphy. The saxophone colossus himself, Sonny Rollins, recounted first meeting Dolphy when he asked to sit in with Max Roach’s band. Roach liked to embarrass young musicians who asked to sit in by playing a tune at an extremely fast tempo and running them off the stage. Of course, Dolphy was no average musician and he hung in there the whole way through the tune. From that point forward, Rollins knew Dolphy was a serious musician to be reckoned with.
The sole living members of the band interviewed for this release, saxophonist Sonny Simmons and Richard Davis, remember Dolphy as being “a Saint” and “angelic” respectively. Close family friend Juanita Smith gives a detailed account of the time she and her husband, Hale Smith, spent with Eric, including the anecdote about how Eric got the enigmatic bump on his head that we see so clearly in photographs from his later years (including our Chuck Stewart photo on the album cover).
LP/CD 1 — Conversations
1. Jitterbug Waltz (7:18)
2. Music Matador (9:37)
3. Love Me (3:22)
4. Alone Together (13:36)
5. Muses for Richard Davis (Previously Unissued 1) (7:39)
6. Muses for Richard Davis (Previously Unissued 2) (8:31)
LP/CD 2 — Iron Man
1. Iron Man (9:14)
2. Mandrake (4:47)
3. Come Sunday (6:28)
4. Burning Spear (11:59)
5. Ode to Charlie Parker (8:04)
6. A Personal Statement (Bonus Track) (15:02) *
LP/CD 3 — Previously Unissued Studio Recordings
1. Music Matador (Alternate Take) (8:05)
2. Love Me (Alternate Take 1) (2:27)
3. Love Me (Alternate Take 2) (3:43)
4. Alone Together (Alternate Take) (12:14)
5. Jitterbug Waltz (Alternate Take) (9:36)
6. Mandrake (Alternate Take) (6:48)
7. Burning Spear (Alternate Take) (10:31)
Eric Dolphy – alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
William “Prince” Lasha – flute
Huey “Sonny” Simmons – alto saxophone
Clifford Jordan – soprano saxophone
Woody Shaw – trumpet
Garvin Bushell – bassoon
Bobby Hutcherson – vibes
Richard Davis – bass
Eddie Kahn – bass
J.C. Moses – drums
Charles Moffett – drums
Recorded on July 1 & 3, 1963 at Music Maker’s Studios in New York City.
*Bonus Track: “A Personal Statement” is a Bob James composition that was recorded at WUOM studios in Ann Arbor, MI on March 2, 1964 with Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute), Bob James (piano), Ron Brooks (bass), Robert Pozar (percussion) and David Schwartz (vocals).
More Information and availability can be found at the Resonance Records website.
Photo Credit © Don Schlitten
Last modified: January 31, 2019