The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue

Notes and Comments

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From: (Michael Gushulak)
  Eric Dolphy was a jazz multi-instrumentalist (alto sax, flute, and bass clarinet) who recorded in the late '50s and early '60s (he died in 1964 at the age of 36). He was noted for being the first to use the bass clarinet as a solo instrument, and played with Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman among others. He is listed in the liner notes of "Freak Out!" as one of the people who "contributed materially in many ways to make [the Mothers'] music what it is."
From: (Alan Saul)
  Somebody should compile documentation on everybody in the Freak Out list, as FZ suggested. This one happens to be my hero, so I thought I'd add to Michael's comments by noting that Eric was born and raised in LA, his father was a car dealer, and the Dolphys were about the nicest people in the world. Frank probably knew of Eric from way back, since Eric had fairly regular gigs in LA until 1958 when he joined Chico Hamilton's chamber ensemble.
  Zappa's composition named above is a parody of the fact that vast quantities of tributes came out after Eric's death.
  Vladimir Simosko wrote the definitive biography/discography, available now from Da Capo Press. A Dutch filmmaker named Hans Hylkema made a documentary about Eric in 1992. It is now available on Rhapsody 9028. The point of view is quite Eurocentric, but it does spend a bit of time at the Dolphy's house in LA. A guy named Joe O'Con bought the house after the Dolphys died and maintained it as a museum/community center until it was destroyed in the riots in 1992. He still runs the Eric Dolphy Memorial Foundation, so the concept continues.
  Musically, there isn't a lot of overlap between Zappa and Dolphy. Dolphy is noted for the large intervals he used, playing some form of the changes typically but the sevenths and thirteenths more than the tonics and dominants. He often kept the rhythmic structure simple in order to provide a basis from which to take harmonic leaps (although there are wonderful examples of his rhythmic complexity). Zappa instead tends toward polyrhythmic compositions with little harmonic complexity, often writing chromatic or serial structures (of course there are counterexamples here too, I'm generalizing). Dolphy was highly trained, unlike Zappa, and was a virtuoso on each of his instruments. Like Zappa, though, he was thought of as some kind of crazed radical revolutionary, in spite of their obvious musicianship. The other tie between them is probably their love of Varese. Eric performed Density 22.5 (I forget the actual density at the moment actually) many times.
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  I really don't know what Alan meant talking about basical rhythmic simplicity of Eric's music. In his bop period may be, but what you'd tell about it.
  "This is a recurring figure around and improvised chorus. This figure, in 5/4, sets the rhythm section up with a definite solo feeling. In improvised section, the rhythms overlap. The bass follows no bar line at all. Notice Tony. He doesn't play time, he plays. Even though the rhythms section breaks the time up, there's a bacic pulse comming from inside the tune. That's the pulse the musicians have to play."
  Looks familiar? Of course. Want another quote?
  "I was thinking about Monk when I wrote this tune. He's so musical no matter what he's doing, even if he's just walking around. It opens in 5/4, but once the whole group is in, the basic count is really 9/4."
  Yeah, it's Dolphy. His liners notes to his masterpiece _Out To Lunch_
From: (Todd Poynor)
  ED was a health nut who avoided even alcohol. Diabetes brought about his death.
  His music has been a major influence on the likes of Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and countless others. Musicians from the "old school", such as swing/bop trumpeter Roy Eldridge, have been amazed by ED's musical ear.
  I doubt FZ ever wished to make fun of ED; FZ has spoken highly of, performed music clearly influenced by, and/or played with many musicians of the jazz "avant-garde" of the 60's, such as pianist Cecil Taylor, multi-reed player Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and saxophonists Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler.
  The melody of "ED Memorial BBQ" suggests that FZ had listened carefully to improvisations by ED.
From: (Jeff Miller)
  Bzzt. Judging by FZ's style, the Eric Dolphy *Memorial* Barbeque is a toast to a great avant garde composer and musician.
From: Pat Buzby <spb0377@OCVAXA.CC.OBERLIN.EDU>
  First of all, Zappa appreciated Dolphy's music (he even included him on the list of inspiring people in "Freak Out!"). Secondly, the tune "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque" really doesn't have much to do with Dolphy's music at all, as far as I can tell, being a fan of both Dolphy and Zappa. Although there is a sax solo on the Best Band version which is very Dolphyesque. So no, I don't think Zappa was making fun of Dolphy with this piece. (Another reason just popped into mind : it's not a very funny composition.)
  One of my favorite Eric Dolphy stories is when he was voted "Sax man of the year" or some such by a musician oriented magazine in 60 or 61 or thereabouts. His response was something along the lines of "Does this mean I'll start getting some decent gigs?" It appears that then ,as now, those actually playing things worth hearing didn't get much commercial reward.
From: (R. Takken)
  About the Title EDMB:
  The first (or at least one of the first) posthumous Eric Dolphy albums (on Prestige) was called: Eric Dolphy's Memorial Album.
From: (Deus Ex Machina)
  Please see the note to "Oh No"

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