Eric Dolphy – Iron Man (1963)

This album, along with the companion album Conversations which was recorded at the same sessions, provides the first glimpse on record of the emerging trumpet talent Woody Shaw – he was a mere 19 when this recording took place. Also on the record are Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Prince Lasha (fl), Sonny Simmons (alto), Clifford Jordan (sop), Richard Davis (bs), Charles Moffett (dr), and of course Eric Dolphy (fl, bs clt, alto). Woody plays on three of the five tunes, the other two being duets between Dolphy and bass player Davis.

Woody sounds reminiscent at times of each of the two leading hard bop trumpet players of the time – Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan. There is a lot of bebop language in his playing – however, occasional glimpses of a more complex harmonic language, undoubtedly influenced by Dolphy, do shine through. Woody’s playing is strongest on the tune Burning Spear where he solos over a time-no-changes feel. He juxtaposes traditional bebop language with more avant-garde, angular ideas in a manner very reminiscent of his future work.

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