Jazz Revolutionary
The Life & Music Of Eric Dolphy
Jonathon Grasse

Published October 15th, 2024
ISBN 9781916829084
Page count TBC / 6 x 8.5 in (150 x 215mm)
£16.95 UK / $24.95 US / $32.95 CAN

Jazz Revolutionary is the first full biography of Eric Dolphy, passionately tracing his creative life from Los Angeles clubs of the late 1940s and 50s, to New York in the early 1960s, and on to Paris, where sixty years ago he died from the complications of undiagnosed diabetes. It presents an engaging examination of this innovative musician and composer, from his family background to posthumous memorials, and provides insight into his recordings both as sideman and leader.

Dolphy emerged at the frontiers of post-bop and free jazz, collaborating with John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and Gunther Schuller, among others, during the early 1960s. This book accounts for his successes, trials, and tribulations. His critical reception is presented as an element of his career’s ups and downs, ultimately leading to an attempt at a new life in Paris. The albums on which he appears are interpreted title by title, track by track, without unnecessary musical terminology or musical examples; instead of cold discographic charts, readers are brought into each recording with a descriptive prose framework reflecting Dolphy’s performances on alto saxophone, flute, and bass clarinet.

Eric Dolphy was perhaps jazz’s first true multi-instrumentalist and a pioneer of avant-garde technique. He is also widely remembered by those who knew him as a kind, gracious human being. In Jazz Revolutionary, his artistic accomplishments, his friendships and family life, and his timeless music are brought together in one place for the first time.


Jonathon Grasse is a professor of music at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he teaches world music, music theory, and composition. His work Hearing Brazil: Music And Histories In Minas Gerais is the definitive English-language study on that region’s musical traditions, a book complimented by The Corner Club, in which he examines Milton Nascimento’s and Lô Borges’s 1972 album Clube da Esquina. His articles have appeared in Popular Music and the Yale Journal Of Music And Religion, among other publications. Born in Calistoga, California, in 1961, Jonathon lives with his wife Nanci in West Los Angeles.