Down Beat - p.745 stars out of 5
-- "Surreal sonics -- Davis' undulating notes aren't just heard but felt....A freewheeling trip."
The Rudy Van Gelder Edition of OUT TO LUNCH includes an essay by Bob
Personnel: Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone); Richard Davis (bass); Tony Williams (drums).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 25, 1964. Originally released on Blue Note (4163). Includes liner notes by A.B. Spellman and Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey).
This is part of the Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
Before leaving the U.S. for Europe and his premature date with destiny, reedman/composer Eric Dolphy collaborated with Blue Note auteur Alfred Lion in early 1964 to produce his finest, most forward-looking recording. Having already stretched the bebop vocabulary beyond its breaking point as a sideman and leader, Dolphy finally zeroed in on his ideal vision of freedom and form with OUT TO LUNCH, creating a style of group interplay that remains unique more than 30 years later.
That's because in vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Richard Davis and 19-year-old drummer Tony Williams, Dolphy encountered a dauntless, intuitive rhythm section that could delineate time without stating it, while providing a harmonic backdrop that was expressive and free. On the odd metric figurations of the title tune, the rhythm section constantly reacts and regroups around Dolphy's fulminating, vocalized alto lines. Occasionally they come together to swing in the traditional sense of ensemble interplay--as they do on Freddie Hubbard's bumble bee trumpet solo--but more often than not they abstract the pulse in bold cubist slivers of color and wide expanses of silence.
Thelonious Monk's influence is keenly felt in Dolphy's playful writing, especially on "Hat and Beard" and "Straight Up And Down." The latter employs a bold comical theme whose wide intervallic leaps and stammering rhythm accents portray the sauntering gait of a drunk. The former is a nod to the letter and spirit of Monk, and Dolphy's bass clarinet playing is fervent, forceful and hilariously human. Finally, "Something Sweet, Something Tender" and "Gazzellioni" focus on the more ruminative side of Dolphy's art, first in tandem with Davis' expressive arco playing, then in a dancing, exhilirating flute feature--the most swinging ensemble work of the date. OUT TO LUNCH is an innovative document by one of the most emotional, resourceful reedmen in jazz history.