Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Potsa Lotsa - The Complete Works of Eric Dolphy (Jazzwerkstatt, 2011)

Multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was primarily known as a virtuoso musician and improviser during his brief life, playing with the likes of Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and making records on his own. But as this two-disc set shows, he was quite a prolific composer as well. Potsa Lotsa is a collective band featuring Silke Eberhard on alto saxophone, Patrick Braun on tenor saxophone, Nikolaus Nueser on trumpet and Gerhard Gschlobl on trombone. On this album they play the entire composed output of Eric Dolphy, quite an ambitious task, but they succeed admirably. The music has a spacious feeling, moving through the compositions with reverence, yet re-arranging them to allow them to work with the drummerless instrumentation and letting the group add their own personal touch to the music. The unique instrumentation is interesting, horns blaring and smearing against the saxophones at times add an otherworldly air to the proceedings, with the lack of drums leading to spacial disorientation. Horns harmonize and then play against each other on “Red Planet,” weaving through open space and adding abstract smears of breath. Nimble swing, akin to an instrumental dance enlivens “Les,” while urgent saxophone propels the “Out There/Far Cry” medley, leading to a multi-horn collective improvisation. The band covers a wide variety of ground from the gently swinging “PL” to the jagged and Monk-ish “Straight Up and Down.” The last couple of tracks, “17 West” and “Inner Fly/Hat and Beard Reprise (Dedicated to E.D.)" pull out all of the stops, getting free and intense, yet ending the album in an earthly manner. This album works quite well and does not tire over the course of two full discs. It is a testament to both the enduring power of Eric Dolphy’s music and the talent of the group that chose to interpret it. Posta Lotsa - Complete Works of Eric Dolphy

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