Ned Heckling The Band – Spring, Sports & Dolphy

It’s that time of year. The sun is coming out, the temperatures are rising, and of course, my birthday is on the horizon. Spring is the rebirth of the world around us. Our environment leaves the bleakness of winter behind and embraces warmth and fresh beginnings in anticipation of summer.

Not only does spring change what we see around us, it signals a change in what is going on in our lives. For the students – both school and university – it signals the beginning of those wonderful experiences known as exams (all a waste of time but for the HSC. Wait, no – all a waste of time). For the fitness freaks, it signals the time where they venture out of the gym and onto the oval to burn away those excess insulating winter calories. And, of course, for music it signals the beginning of everybody’s favourite season – Festival season.

This spring promises to be as exciting as ever on the music front, with jazz festivals such as the Manly Jazz Festival and Jazz In The Vines in the Hunter Valley mixed in with popular music festivals such as Parklife, Village Fair and Harbourside.

However, as I sit here today gazing out at the sizzling sun belting down on the pavement, I have chosen to talk to you regarding the best thing about Spring. Ladies and gentleman, the best thing about Spring is the sport.

Look around – everywhere you look there is something exciting going on in the world of sport. On a local level the Sydney club rugby union competition is drawing to an exciting climax as the finals roll on. Sticking to rugby union, the Tri-Nations have reached a result and the Wabbalies, sorry I mean the Wallabies now look ahead to the exciting Spring Tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Switching codes, the NRL (God bless it) is moving into its finals series and so far has made for exhilarating viewing.

Moreover, the A-League is underway and looking to settle into another season of unpredictable and enjoyable football, whilst the top echelon of world football: the Premier League along with all the other European Leagues, including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup, also look to move into another season of breath-taking quality.

Across the Atlantic, the MBL (that’s Major League Baseball for those unaware) is counting down to the Post-Season beginning in October, whilst the much anticipated NFL (once again, that’s the National Football League) Regular Season began this past weekend. Also, the NBA (surely you all know that one, right?) had its Hall Of Fame induction, as well as the NHL (the National Hockey League) Regular-Season beginning in October.

As you can see, Spring is quite a time for sport-lovers. Such is the quality of sports playing around-the-clock this Spring on television, it can get both confronting and a tad confusing when it comes to deciding what you should actually watch. But really, why limit yourself to just one sporting program? Flick on your television and take it all in. Don’t complain about a sport that you might not understand, rather, appreciate the athletic prowess on display and the hard work that those athletes do in order to compete at the highest level. After all, the only way you will develop new interests is to experience things you have never experienced before.

This weekend I had to apply such a philosophy. During a conversation regarding jazz, an old music teacher introduced me to multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy’s CD Out To Lunch! Admittedly I had heard of Eric Dolphy before but never actually heard any of his music. Knowing that I had not listened to much ‘avant-garde’ jazz, he instructed me to listen to the CD and let him know what I thought of it. Well, such was my appreciation for the quality of this album, I thought I’d share my thoughts with all of you.

Originally released on February 25, 1964, Out To Lunch! is essentially 40 or so minutes of organised madness. Right from the get-go Dolphy and co. set out to abandon any preconceived idea of what you thought jazz might be. The first track Hat and Beard (written about pianist Thelonious Monk) opens with a dissonant trill played by tutti and only gets more oblique from there. The ever-changing feel of the song is punctuated by the then unbelievably eighteen year old drummer Tony Williams’ experimental rhythms that somehow tie in with bassist Richard Davis’ lines. The Monk tribute piece is home to a marvelously technical trumpet solo by Freddie Hubbard as well as some quite breathtaking two-ing and fro-ing between Williams and vibist Bobby Hutcherson. In terms of ‘starting with a bang’, Hat and Beard is the atomic blast of all beginnings.

The next track Something Sweet, Something Tender sees bassist Davis move from pizzicato to arco for the intro, creating an ominous tone for Dolphy to solo over on the bass clarinet. Davis then appropriately moves back to pizzicato as the track conforms to its name and becomes the CD’s most melodic moment. Fortunately, Dolphy takes his solo down the track of dissonance and re-writes the book of avant-garde soloing.

The following track Gazzelloni, dedicated to famed flutist Severino Gazzelloni, is rhythmically the most conventional of all the songs on the album. Somehow though, through delicate articulation and seemingly random fills by Williams on the drums, coupled with the eerie bass accompaniment, Dolphy manages to create an alien-esque sound. This song is particularly memorable for the random bass and drums break which is simply mind-blowing.

The following two tracks Out To Lunch and Straight Up And Down round out the album in resounding fashion. The former track features more virtuoso performances on the drums, trumpet and alto saxophone, whilst the latter uses more oblique instrumentation as well as impressive solo work to further the avant-garde brilliance that is this album.

There can be no other way to say it: this album blew my mind. The combination of these five musicians: Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, flute and alto sax, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Richard Davis on bass, and Tony Williams on drums will completely re-shape your idea of ‘jazz’. These songs aren’t just avant-garde, they are out of this world. Thanks to the innate ‘togetherness’ of these musicians the songs change – be it tonally, rhythmically or tempo-wise – at completely random moments. It’s as if there is some mad, power-hungry ‘God’ behind the music who keeps pressing the ‘change to something different’ button mid-song. I guess what I’m trying to say is: Like the plethora of quality sport on television this Spring, Dolphy’s Out To Lunch! needs to be listened to, appreciated, respected and ultimately marveled at; for it is one of the most brilliant things you will ever hear.

Upcoming Jazz Events

Tuesday 15th September, 8:30pm – 11pm

Peter Martin Trio @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $18/$14/$12 @ or at the door if not sold out.

Wednesday 16th September, 8:30pm – 11pm

Mark Isaazs: an evening of solo jazz piano @ Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Ultimo Centre.

Tix $25/$15 @ 9351 7940 or at the door if not sold out.

Friday 18th September, 8:30pm – 11pm

Andrew Robson Trio + Dave Macrae Trio @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $18/$14/$12 @ or at the door if not sold out.

Saturday 19th September, 8:30pm – 11pm

Leonie Cohen Trio + Jeremy Sawkins Trio @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $18/$14/$12 @ or at the door if not sold out.

Saturday 19th September, 9:30pm

I LIKE IT LIKE THAT – Brazilian Funk Affair! feat. ‘I Like it Like That’ Orchestra + Samba Frog + DJs Russ Dewbury (Night at the Jazz Rooms UK) & Man About Town (Watussi) @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $25 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $73.80 per person @

Tuesday 22nd September, 9:00pm

Jason Bruer Band + Matt McMahon & Guy Strazz @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $25 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $67.80 /$64.80 concession per person @

Every Friday Night @ 8:00pm

Marsala @ Waverly Bowling Club.

Free entrance! Free car parking for 100 cars!

Got a gig to advertise? Email details to

Must Read