The magic of Dolphy to the Death is in all the takes I couldn’t stand. I’m just venturing into the world of improvisation and while it’s liberating, it can also be frustrating. Sometimes you have a sound in your head but your fingers aren’t cooperating. But lucky for me, and hopefully for your ears, all the frustrating takes added up to something that might just be my favorite track…depending on what day you ask me! But first, you should know that like some of you have surmised, Dolphy is in reference to the late, great jazz saxophonist Eric Dolphy. The sample you’re hearing is from his rendition of a standard called On Green Dolphin Street. Dolphy was known for his avant garde style and he pushed jazz to the limits of his time. But it just so happens this sample is from his earlier, straight ahead days. It was intimidating to try to improv over his music knowing his notable history, worrying I wouldn’t be able to live up to it. This is where the “to the death” thing comes in. After several grueling takes, I have to admit I didn’t like ANY of them, not all the way through at least. I thought about splicing the takes but that didn’t really seem right somehow. Instead, sort of as a joke, I said to Todd, my master engineer, “Just put those last 4 takes on top of each other and see what they sound like.” That’s what he did, and that’s what you’re listening to! We couldn’t believe how effortlessly the separate tracks lined up even before we tweaked and mixed things down. We joked that it sounded like 4 Jades duking it out to the death on 4 pianos, fingers bleeding until someone gives in. Don’t let the randomness of it scare you. Believe it or not, once you listen to it a few times over, a single tune starts to emerge, you’ll find yourself humming along in no time.
In the cover art, I watermarked a cool cartoon of some kick butt women fighters on top of a shot of me in the now infamous Miss America cape-coat (I wore it for the talent competition of the 2000 Miss America pageant, so yes, it’s over 10 years old!) leaning belligerently against that same magical brick wall. That classic car was a part of the legal graffiti on one of the sides of the Howling Wolf, a nightclub in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. In the liner notes, I tell the story of 4 women with intertwining destinies who find themselves in a surreal situation, pitted against each other. Who do you think wins it all? Download the liner notes now.