Personnel: Eric Dolphy (flute, bass clarinet); Booker Little (trumpet); Mal Waldron (piano); Richard Davis (bass); Ed Blackwell (drums).
Recorded live at The Five Spot, New York, New York on July 16, 1961. Originally released on Prestige (7294).
Reed player/composer/arranger Eric Dolphy was, in the early '60s, in the vanguard of the free jazz movement, yet his music was not as avant-garde as some of his contemporaries'. Dolphy played with a freer, more vocalized approach, yet he did this over more or less standard chord changes.
Recorded in 1961, the AT THE FIVE SPOT series of albums documents what may have been Dolphy's finest group ever, as well as one of that era's best working bands. This quintet plays beautifully as a unit in extended performances of originals and standards, making tunes such as "Like Someone in Love" their own. Dolphy's flute is exquisitely lyrical, and Booker Little's trumpet is crisp and brassy, full of yearning and insight. Richard Davis and Ed Blackwell maintain a relaxed yet engaging swing, and Mal Waldron plays with an attractive, Thelonious Monk-like succinctness. "Aggression" features Dolphy with his unique sound on bass clarinet, but it's Little who shines the brightest--he has the shining technique of a Clifford Brown, and his daring approach and bristling, vocal tone prefigures Lester Bowie, Leo Smith, and other "new jazz" trumpet voices of the later '60s.