A recent post made me think of another great innovator of free jazz, as well as third stream music: Eric Dolphy.
Dolphy was an American jazz alto saxophonist, flautist, and bass clarinetist. He was one of several groundbreaking jazz alto players to rise to prominence in the 1960s. He was also the first important bass clarinet soloist in jazz, and among the earliest significant flute soloists. In the years after his death, his music was often described as being “too out to be in and too in to be out.” Among his contemporaries and admirers were Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Oliver Nelson, Herbie Hancock, and a young Frank Zappa would later compose the piece, “The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue” for the Mothers of Invention album, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, in Dolphy’s honor.
“Too out to be in and too in to be out” is also perfect description of Third Stream music – a genre of music located about halfway between jazz and classical music. Improvisation — a key element of jazz, but far less common in classical music — is a vital component of Third Stream. Thus Third Stream can be realized in its “truest” sense when musicians, especially players of traditionally “non-jazz” instruments such as strings, horn, or double reed, learn basic jazz improvisation and style, thus opening up the possibilities of improvisation throughout the ensemble.
In the clip above and the two below, the Eric Dolphy Quintet perform “GW” (alto sax), “God Bless the Child” (bass clarinet), and “245” (alto sax), respectively from a television broadcast by the German station SWF (Südwestrundfunk) which aired as part #24 of a TV series called “Jazz gehört und gesehen” (Jazz Seen and Heard) at Deutschlandhalle in Berlin, Germany on August 30, 1961.
Eric Dolphy Quintet: