Every Record I Own - Day 330: Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch!
Italian author/philosopher Umberto Eco once argued that the most important books in one’s library aren’t the ones that have been finished, but the ones that have yet to be read. His stance was that finished books represent acquired knowledge and as such are little more than trophies, whereas the books that line the shelves waiting to be consumed represent a desire to continue to learn and an acknowledgment of the gaps in one’s learning.
My record collection has always contained a few albums that I don’t necessarily enjoy, but that I hold onto because I sense that my inability to appreciate them comes from a lack of understanding. The avant garde jazz classic Out to Lunch! falls under this category. My interest was initially piqued when a musical colleague mentioned this was his favorite jazz album. Given this musician’s predilections towards more chaotic music forms, his appreciation for this canonical free jazz album makes a certain amount of sense. But while the unhinged and uncharted improvisations on Miles Davis’s electric albums speak my language, I find it more difficult to latch on to the more traditional jazz instrumentation on this record.
I realize this sounds like a minor hang-up. And that’s why I still pull this record out every few months to give it a go. I’m convinced that someday Out to Lunch! will finally come into focus like the images buried in those magic eye posters from the ‘90s, and I’ll finally see the beauty in this difficult record.