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The Last Concert
Charles Mingus/Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus's
This rare concert footage of Eric Dolphy's last concert with Charles Mingus was filmed in Stockholm in 1964. They would never see each other again after this remarkable performance. Eric Dolphy alto sax and bass clarinet, Clifford Jordan tenor sax and flute, Johnny Coles trumpet, Jaki Byard piano, Charles Mingus bass, and Danny Richmond drums.
After Out to Lunch! and an appearance as a sideman on Andrew Hill's Point of Departure, Dolphy left to tour Europe with Charles Mingus' sextet in early 1964. (Dolphy also played with Mingus in 1960, as heard on the Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus and Mingus at Antibes albums). From there he intended to settle in Europe with his fiancée, who was working on the ballet scene in Paris. The Mingus band for this tour was extensively recorded, including on the Cornell 1964 album and is one of Mingus' strongest line-ups, including Dolphy and pianist Jaki Byard. After leaving Mingus, he performed with and recorded a few sides with various European bands, including the mis-named Last Date with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink, and was preparing to join Albert Ayler for a recording.
Eric Dolphy died accidentally in Berlin on June 28, 1964. The circumstances of his passing are disputed. The liner notes to the Complete Prestige Recordings boxset say that Dolphy "collapsed in his hotel room in Berlin and when brought to the hospital he was diagnosed as being in a diabetic coma. After being administered a shot of insulin (apparently a type stronger than what was then available in the US) he lapsed into insulin shock and died." A later documentary and liner note disputes this, saying Dolphy collapsed on stage in Berlin and was brought to a hospital. The attending hospital physicians had no idea that Dolphy was a diabetic and decided on a stereotypical view of jazz musicians, that he had overdosed on drugs. He was left in a hospital bed for the drugs to run their course.
Dolphy was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame in 1964. Coltrane paid tribute to Dolphy in an interview: "Whatever I'd say would be an understatement. I can only say my life was made much better by knowing him. He was one of the greatest people I've ever known, as a man, a friend, and a musician." Dolphy's mother, Sadie, who had fond memories of her son practicing in the studio by her house, gave instruments that Dolphy had bought in France but never played to Coltrane, who subsequently played the flute and bass clarinet on several albums before his own death in 1967. Dolphy was engaged to be married to Joyce Mordecai, a classically-trained dancer.
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