This review is from: Out To Lunch (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (Audio CD)
Probably the best single recording Eric Dolphy ever made, 'Out To Lunch' is perhaps not the place to start with Dolphy. In particular, if you're looking to understand Dolphy's impact as a soloist, particularly on alto sax, or to follow his evolution, look elsewhere. The reason is quite simple: here, Dolphy is absolutely the finished article, and so completely integrated into the ensemble sound that even when he's the featured player what's happening around him is just as important. The calibre of the other musicians is important here: Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Richard Davies (bass) and Tony Williams (drums) are perfect partners in this music.
All the compositions on 'Out To Lunch' are Dolphy's, and as a result the session has a homogeneity of sound and conception that is unmatched elsewhere. The group sound is unique: a pianoless quintet in which vibist Hutcherson supplies the missing harmonic glue while keeping the music open and spacious. The tunes are challenging, angular and rhythmically dislocated, and yet this is recognisably jazz, right down to the humour, albeit jazz informed by Dolphy's understanding of twentieth-century classical music.
Stand-out tracks are 'Hat and Beard' and 'Gazzelloni', but the album deserves to be heard as a whole. Challenging and rewarding pretty well in equal measure, 'Out To Lunch' was recorded in 1964 and still sounds absolutely fresh in 2011.