The Jazzcat

Who is Eric Dolphy?

by on Mar.20, 2005, under News


Slide Show

I can’t believe that in 2005 this is really a question.

However, for those who don’t know, Eric Dolphy is one of the most influential,

creative and dedicated jazz musicians that ever lived. The music of this man

has made a tremendous difference in my life as well as many a jazz lover, jazz

musician, jazz icon, a jazz historian or anyone else who knows, plays and

listens to the art form.


Phil Ranelin, the great trombone player of Los Angeles and beyond, put together a

program which featured the music and the life of Eric Dolphy. A few people were there

who actually knew Eric or heard about him in the neighborhood where he grew up

near Western and Jefferson here in Los



One of the stories that were told was how Eric used to play

with the birds. The birds would sing and Eric would play his flute and sing

back. Eric’s parents built a room in the back of their house so that Eric could

practice and this is where he spent fourteen hour days cultivating and

perfecting his music on all of the many instruments that he played. People

would say that Eric would practice one note for three days! This was also the

place that many of the greats such as Buddy Collette, Max Roach and quite a few

others would come over and have all day night and all day long jazz jam



I got up and shared my love for Eric Dolphy’s music and

wished I could have been around to know him and see him play. I used to play

his music on my radio show just about every night. He had so much to say that I

just wanted to get his vocabulary inside of my body and enlighten my life with

some Dolphy wisdom.


Phil played some recordings and showed some video tape of

Eric performing with Charles Mingus which was quite a treat. Other got up and

shared their thoughts on Eric and how his music affected their lives.


Eric’s life was cut much too short by diabetes but, the

love, the music and the legacy of Eric Dolphy will live on this earth and in

our hearts forever!


LeRoy Downs

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