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The John Coltrane Quintet Featuring Eric Dolphy: So Many Things: The European Tour 1961

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Eric Dolphy’s bolstering of the Classic Quartet into a titan-heavy quintet has long split the Coltrane camp. The naysayers cite an ensemble sound that had become too busy, with Dolphy, as master colorist, providing too many bright and distracting rays. The Dolphy booster club touts a more progressive mode of thinking, pointing to a flexibility in Trane’s sound that fed back into his compositional thinking and led to his avant-garde apex.

The Village Vanguard recordings from early November 1961 feature a smattering of Dolphy, but this four-disc set, culled from Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm in the later portions of the same month, is a veritable Dolphy marathon. This stuff is rare: air shots and field recordings in varying quality but all of it listenable-and all of it headstrong, manful and galvanizing.

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