Review by Humphrey Lyttleton
December 1961 - Jazz Journal
Eric Dolphy is fast becoming a name to conjure with. He is a formidable musician with a strong sense of his own powers and direction. A few moths ago I heard him perform on a television show in West Berlin. For his second number he played an unaccompanied, three-and-a-half minute solo on bass clarinet. (A far cry, you'll agree, from Trad Fad). He belongs to the group of players which, if you stand far enough back, can be seen to constitute a 'School' incorporating among others both John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. The superficialities of their style are controlled over-blowing, a hard, nervous tone, extensive use of harmonics and, in general, an apparent ambition to extend the range of sounds available on a saxophone far beyond anything envisaged by Adolph Sax.
Ken McIntyre - a name unknown to me until this moment - belongs to the same school. In his use of staccato 'laughing' phrases there is a throw-back to Pete Brown, but this is probably coincidence. On listening to this LP, various appropriate epithets spring to mind - 'stimulating', 'exciting', provocative', aggressive', and even 'hot'. Others must be more sparsely used. The music is sporadically 'relaxed', 'attractive', 'melodic', and 'rich' - but only sporadically. To a nervous system attuned to the serenity of a Johnny Hodges or the poise of a Buck Clayton, this music has for the most part a tenseness which is disturbing. It seems to underline a dilemma in modern jazz.where next? Since bop, jazz has taken harmonic expression almost to the limit. To create the sort of stir essential to a modern jazz musician in this hectic and impetuous age, there's little scope left in the harmonic field. What do you do next? *Kick over the bar lines and the chordal foundations like Ornette Coleman? Flirt with the classical forms like John Lewis? Become absorbed in introspection like Mils Davis? Or try to push the emotional content of jazz beyond the bounds of inhibition, like Dolphy, McIntyre and Co.? While you're thinking this out, take this LP to brush up on your Dolphy. We shall be hearing a lot of him in future, Kruschev permitting.