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«Dolphyology: Complete Eric Dolphy for Solo Guitar»

Slovenian guitarist Samo Šalamon (known also as Dr. Jazz thanks to his popular you-tube podcast) rediscovered the music of Eric Dolphy, one of his biggest influences and the reason why he wanted to play jazz and improvised music but still underrated composer and improviser, during the many Covid lockdowns. Soon he was inspired to arrange all of Dolphy’s compositions for solo guitar, following guitarist Miles Okazaki’s acclaimed solo guitar arrangements of Thelonious Monk compositions («Work Volume 1-6», 2018). Šalamon transcribed all of Dolphy’s compositions but decided to improvise on these compositions, sometimes free improvising and in other cases simply following the harmonic structure. He says that he played Dolphy’s compositions throughout his musical career, but rarely in a solo setting, probably because of fear or respect.

The double album «Dolphyology: Complete Eric Dolphy for Solo Guitar» was recorded at Šalamon’s living room in Maribor in April 2021, with just one microphone. All the 28 compositions are first takes, with occasional small glitch or noise in the background like his cat meowing in the background. And as a DIY project, Šalamon mixed, mastered, produced and released this project on his own Samo Record. The cover art is obviously a homage to the iconic photo of Dolphy by Chuck Stewart.

Needless to say, Šalamon is well-versed in Dolphy’s discography, but he is not burdened by the legacy of Dolphy as an idiosyncratic alto sax player, clarinet player or flutist. Šalamon makes Dolphy’s compositions his own, respecting the melodic logic of these compositions but tailoring it to the voicings of acoustic guitars (6 and 12 string guitar) and on «Inner Flight I» even for a mandolin. This is, obviously, an intimate but thinner version of Dolphy’s work, without the pioneering extended breathing techniques and the multiphonics, with more straight lines than angular ones, but, still, stressing how advanced was Dolphy’s musical thinking, and always rooted in the blues and bebop. My favorite arrangements are «Springtime» which becomes a sensual dance, the classic «Hat and Beard» which Šalamon takes to freer territories before adapting the melody, the exotic-Eastern «Inner Flight I», and the classics «Straight Up and Down» and «Gazzelloni» that are still effective. On this generous album, Šalamon demonstrates his musical imagination and being a free spirit as a guitarist and improviser.

Eyal Hareuveni

Samo Šalamon (6-string acoustic g, mandoline, 12-string acoustic g) 

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