Eric Allan Dolphy Jr. (June 20, 1928 – June 29, 1964) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flautist. On a few occasions, he also played the clarinet and piccolo. Dolphy was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence in the same era. His use of the bass clarinet helped to establish the instrument within jazz. Dolphy extended the vocabulary and boundaries of the alto saxophone, and was among the earliest significant jazz flute soloists.
His improvisational style was characterized by the use of wide intervals, in addition to employing an array of extended techniques to emulate the sounds of human voices and animals. He used melodic lines that were "angular, zigzagging from interval to interval, taking hairpin turns at unexpected junctures, making dramatic leaps from the lower to the upper register." Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz, his compositions and solos were often rooted in conventional (if highly abstracted) tonal bebop harmony.
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