34 Facts About Eric Dolphy


Eric Dolphy was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence in the same era.


Eric Dolphy extended the vocabulary and boundaries of the alto saxophone, and was among the earliest significant jazz flute soloists.


Eric Dolphy began music lessons at age six, studying clarinet and saxophone privately.


Eric Dolphy attended Dorsey High School, where he continued his musical studies and learned additional instruments.


Eric Dolphy graduated in 1947, then attended Los Angeles City College, during which time he played contemporary classical works such as Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat and, along with Jimmy Knepper and Art Farmer, performed with Roy Porter's 17 Beboppers, Eric Dolphy went on to make eight recordings with Porter by 1949.


Eric Dolphy entered the US Army in 1950 and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.


Eric Dolphy often had friends come by to jam, enabled by the fact that his father had built a studio for him in the family's backyard.


Eric Dolphy gained his big break when he was invited to join Chico Hamilton's quintet in 1958.


Eric Dolphy appears with Hamilton's band in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day playing flute during the Newport Jazz Festival of 1958.


Charles Mingus had known Eric Dolphy from growing up in Los Angeles, and the younger man joined Mingus' Jazz Workshop in 1960, shortly after arriving in New York.


Eric Dolphy took part in Mingus' big band recording Pre-Bird, and is featured on "Bemoanable Lady".


In 1961, Eric Dolphy left Mingus' band and went to Europe for a few months, where he was recorded in Scandinavia and Berlin.


Trumpeter Booker Little and Eric Dolphy had a short-lived musical partnership.


Eric Dolphy performed on key recordings by George Russell, Oliver Nelson, and Ornette Coleman.


Eric Dolphy worked and recorded with Gunther Schuller, multi-instrumentalist Ken McIntyre, and bassist Ron Carter.


Fantasy released a 9-CD box set in 1995 containing all of Eric Dolphy's recorded output for Prestige.


Eric Dolphy occasionally recorded unaccompanied saxophone solos; his only predecessors were the tenor players Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins, making Eric Dolphy the first to do so on alto.


Eric Dolphy was very familiar with the music of composers such as Anton Webern and Alban Berg, had a large record collection that included music by these composers, as well as by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Bartok, and owned scores by composers such as Milton Babbitt, Donald Erb, Charles Ives, and Olivier Messiaen.


Eric Dolphy visited Edgard Varese at his home, and performed the composer's Density 21.5 for solo flute at the Ojai Music Festival in 1962.


Eric Dolphy participated in Gunther Schuller's and John Lewis's Third Stream efforts of the 1960s, appearing on the album Jazz Abstractions, and admired the Italian flute virtuoso Severino Gazzelloni, after whom he named his composition Gazzelloni.


In July 1963, producer Alan Douglas arranged recording sessions for which Eric Dolphy's sidemen were emerging musicians of the day, and the results produced the albums Iron Man and Conversations, as well as the Muses album released in Japan in late 2013.


Eric Dolphy intended to settle in Europe with his fiancee Joyce Mordecai, who was working in the ballet scene in Paris.


Eric Dolphy planned to form a band with Woody Shaw, Richard Davis, and Billy Higgins, and was writing a string quartet, Love Suite.


Eric Dolphy was engaged to marry Joyce Mordecai, a classically trained dancer who resided in Paris.


On June 27,1964, Eric Dolphy traveled to Berlin to play with a trio led by Karl Berger at the opening of a jazz club called The Tangent.


Eric Dolphy was apparently seriously ill when he arrived, and during the first concert was barely able to play.


Eric Dolphy was hospitalized that night, but his condition worsened.


The attending hospital physicians did not know Eric Dolphy was a diabetic and teetotaler who did not smoke cigarettes or take drugs, deciding because of a stereotype of jazz musicians he had overdosed on drugs.


Eric Dolphy was left in a hospital bed for the drugs to run their course.


When Eric Dolphy got sick on that date [in Berlin], and him being black and a jazz musician, they thought he was a junkie.


Eric Dolphy worked intermittently with Ron Carter and Freddie Hubbard throughout his career, and in later years he hired Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson and Woody Shaw to work in his live and studio bands.


Eric Dolphy was posthumously inducted into the DownBeat magazine Hall of Fame in 1964.


Eric Dolphy was one of the greatest people I've ever known, as a man, a friend, and a musician.


Eric Dolphy was the subject of a 1991 documentary titled Last Date, directed by Hans Hylkema, written by Hylkema and Thierry Bruneau, and produced by Akka Volta.