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The Illinois Concert (1963)

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Eddie Kahn

The 1999 discovery of a previously unknown 1963 concert by Eric Dolphy makes it one of the finds of the decade. Taped for broadcast at the University of Illinois at Champaign, it was mentioned in an Eric Dolphy Internet chat room and eventually relayed to producer Michael Cuscuna. The sound is very good, except for overly prominent drums throughout the concert and an under-miked flute on "South Street Exit." Dolphy's playing is consistently rewarding, including a lengthy workout of "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," a miniature of "Something Sweet, Something Tender," and his always superb solo feature of "God Bless the Child." He switches to alto sax for an adventurous new work, "Iron Man" (which he would record a few months later for Douglas International), also inserting a hilarious quote of "Comin' Through the Rye." A 23-year-old Herbie Hancock on piano, Eddie Locke on bass, and drummer J. C. Moses make up the solid rhythm section. The last two tracks, "Red Planet" and Dolphy's "G.W.," add the support of the University of Illinois Brass Ensemble, which included a young Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet. Highly recommended!- ~ Ken Dryden