Music – A Beautiful Universe

SKF NOTE: In the summer of 1961, multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy joined John Coltrane’s great quartet with Elvin Jones (drums), McCoy Tyler (piano), and Jimmy Garrison (bass), for a summer tour The groups’s “Complete 1961 Copenhagen Concert” album offers us a chance to hear the group in full swing.

Down Beat was the premier jazz magazine of the day. DB Associate Editor John Tynan labeled Coltrane’s and Dolphy’s music as “anti-jazz.” In the November 23, 1961 DB, Tynan wrote, “At Hollywood’s Renaissance club recently.., I heard a good rhythm section go to waste behind the nihilistic exercises of…Coltrane and Dolphy.”

Later, DB Editor-in-Chief Don DeMicheal interviewed Dolphy and Coltrane. He asked them of their music, “What are you trying to do?” Or, “What are you doing?”

Here’s the part of Coltrane’s reply I underscored long ago in my copy of DeMicheal’s Coltrane/Dolphy interview:

“What I’m trying to do I find enjoyable. Inspiring….

“It’s more than beauty that I feel in music-that I think musicians feel in music.

“But, over-all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe. That’s what music is to me – It’s just another way of saying this is a big, beautiful universe we live in, that’s been given to us, and here’s an example of just how magnificent and encompassing it is.”

Source: “John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy Answer the Jazz Critics,” by Don DeMicheal, Down Beat, April 12, 1962

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