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Eric Dolphy

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Los Angeles, United States (1928 – 1964)

Eric Allan Dolphy (June 20, 1928 – June 29, 1964) was a musician who played , and and was educated at Los Angeles City College. Dolphy was the first important bass clarinet soloist in jazz, and one of the first viable flute soloists in jazz. On early recordings, he occasionally played traditional B-flat clarinet. His unique and individual style utilized wide intervals, speech-like effects and exotic scales.

Classical music played a large role in Dolphy’s early training and remained important to him. Dolphy performed and recorded Edgard Varese’s Density 21.5 for solo flute as well as other classical[ works, and participated heavily in efforts. Dolphy’s work is sometimes classified as , though he insisted that his compositions and solos were grounded in a thorough, if occasionally unorthodox, use of harmony. He is often compared to Ornette Coleman.

Numerous recordings were made of live performances by Dolphy, and these have been issued by many sometimes dubious record labels, drifting in and out of print ever since. In 1964, Dolphy signed with the legendary Blue Note label and recorded Out to Lunch (once again, the label insisted on using “out” in the title). This album was deeply rooted in the , and Dolphy’s solos are as dissonant and unpredictable as anything he ever recorded.

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