Brian Morton, co-author (along with the late Richard Cook) of numerous editions of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, will be publishing a biography of multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy in June 2009. Dolphy died from diabetic complications at the age of 36 in Berlin in 1964; as well as being an invaluable part of groups led by Chico Hamilton, John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus, he made strong, progressive leader dates such as Out There, Conversations, and Out to Lunch (recorded just a few months before his death). I came across this listing from Equinox Books while working on an upcoming Night Lights show about him:
In Gone In The Air, Brian Morton tells a story that begins in California in the embrace of a loving family and ends alone in a Berlin hospital. He talks to friends, family, and to the many musicians Eric Dolphy worked with. He analyzes Dolphy’s complex contribution to modern jazz and his mastery of three different instruments, alto saxophone, bass clarinet and flute. The man who emerges is outwardly quiet and good – some describe him as a saint – but inwardly turbulent as he pursues an almost mystical devotion to music.
To date, the only extended work about Dolphy that I’m aware of is Vladimir Simosko and Barry Tepperman’s 1996 revision of their 1971 biography-discography. Morton has written about Dolphy before, back in 1993 in The Wire, and again in 2004 in Jazz Review; I’m looking forward to this expanded treatise on one of the most interesting jazz musicians of the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the meantime, here’s a video of Dolphy with Don Ellis and Benny Golson at a February 8, 1964 New York Philharmonic Young People’s concert (the day before the Beatles’ debut on Ed Sullivan; frankly, the kids in the audience look like they might be ready to dig the Fab Four instead):