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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Eric Dolphy: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Eric Dolphy was one of many genius musicians who was taken from us way too early.  He tragically died from a coma brought on by an undiagnosed diabetic coma at the age of 36.  Whether he was playing the saxophone, the flute, or as in this clip, the bass clarinet, his phrasing had a purity and urgency that demanded the listener's full attention. As any musician will tell you, playing an unaccompanied solo in any genre is one of the most difficult things to do in music.  Even for a short clip like this one, it is difficult to keep things interesting.  I find this version of God Bless The Child absolutely mesmerizing.  Dolphy's playing is beyond engaging.  So many notes and yet the phrasing, not the virtuosity, stand out above everything else.

He had so much music left to make.  It is a shame we lost him so soon.  And unlike many of his contemporaries who also died at an early age, Dolphy was not involved with drugs and did not kill himself through excess.  Such a shame.