JazzTimes 10: Essential Jazz Flute Albums

So you say the flute isn't a key jazz instrument? It can still blow your mind.

4. Eric Dolphy: Other Aspects (Blue Note, 1987 [originally recorded 1960-62])

This posthumous collection of outtakes is not strictly a flute album; on two of its five tracks Dolphy plays the saxophone in his inimitable skronky way. The other three, however, are flute pieces, and a remarkable reminder of just how different Dolphy sounded from conception to execution on that axe. Especially on the two-part solo fantasia “Inner Flight,” he plays in a clear, flowing style, making wide ballet-like leaps but then lilting back to earth like a leaf in the wind. The final track, “Improvisations and Tukras,” is a deep dive into Indian trance music. Dolphy plays long-note patterns along with tamboura player Roger Mason and tablaist Gina Lalli, who also chants vocal percussion figures. It’s an absolutely mesmerizing moment whose beautiful implications deserved further investigating. Other aspects, indeed.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.