Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound (2024)

Whatever I’d say would be an understatement…He was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known, as a man, as a friend, and a musician.   –  John Coltrane

In 2014, Seed Artists produced an historic celebration of visionary multi-instrumentalist and composer Eric Dolphy, whose tragic death in 1964, at just 36, left the jazz world wondering, “What if?”

On June 1 & 2, in partnership with School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School College of Performing Arts, and United Artists for Humanity, nearly 40 brilliant artists will celebrate Dolphy’s singular voice from novel perspectives–in their own voices, not merely parroting his sound. Inspiration, not imitation. We think Dolphy would have appreciated that, and we are excited and honored to celebrate his underappreciated genius with you.

What will you experience? Unheard scores. Explorations of Dolphy’s little-known jam sessions with Cecil Taylor. Angelica Snchez’s revival of Geri Allen’s epic “Celebration Ensemble Suite for Eric Dolphy”–performed just once, 35 years ago. (Check out that lineup!) NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman, who performed with Dolphy and Coltrane, in a new quartet. Don Byron’s quartet of bass clarinets. The Dolphy Trio, comprised of his three main instruments–alto sax, flute, bass clarinet. The blistering James Brandon Lewis Quartet performing new works created from Dolphy’s unfinished scores. The Dolphy String Quartet performing his unfinished “Love Suite” and other unheard works. Riveting solo sets from Eugene Chadbourne (guitar/banjo) and Patricia Brennan (marimba/electronics). Pioneering dancer/choreographer Dianne McIntyre with Seed’s own Pheeroan akLaff on drums. A New School group taught mentored by Pheeroan akLaff, fresh off a class created just for this festival, performing unrecorded Dolphy and a tribute from composer Hale Smith. And Dr. James Newton–Dolphy scholar, composer, educator, and one of the great all-time jazz flautists–lead a symposium with Reggie Workman and Nicole Mitchell, and a listening sessions with Seed’s resident jazz historian Peter Bodge, who created the stunning festival artwork.

Can’t wait to see what this knockout slate creates.

See below for festival specs and info on the


  • GET YOUR TICKETS NOW They will be available at the door by scanning a QR code–no cash–but purchasing in advance will help us with planning, and you’ll avoid a bottleneck at the entrance. Just click the TICKETS button above. Please consider a donation at checkout to help us present more adventurous music and pay artists at a fair rate.
  • If you can’t make the festival but would like to help us present more concerts, you can donate through the ticketing link without purchasing a ticket. Thank you.

  • DOOR TIMES Doors to John L. Tishman Auditorium will open 30 minutes before the music begins–that means you can grab your seat starting at 5:30 on Saturday, approximately 4:30 on Sunday. You can access the building itself–63 5th Avenue–before door time to queue up for a good seat, but there is nothing to do or see in the lobby.
  • On Sunday, the Listening Session and Symposium, which precede the music, will take place in the Starr Foundation Room, just down the hall from the Auditorium. The same 30-minute door time applies, so you can get in at 2:30.

  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION   John L. Tishman Auditorium is very well situated for straphangers at the corner of 13th Street and 5th Avenue. Just up the block from the Union Square subway station (L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6) and the 6th Avenue station, (F, M, L), which is also a PATH stop. The 7th and 8th Avenue stops along 14th Street connect the West Side trains to the L, or it is a short walk to Tishman. See the MTA Trip Planner to plan your trip.

  • PARKING   NYC street parking is what it is, so you will likely have to hunt for a bit to find a metered spot near the venue. Street parking will be easier on Sunday, when most restrictions are lifted. If you don’t already have the ParkNYC app, wise to load it on your phone for street parking.
  • There are many parking garages nearby, which you can find via SpotHero or a similar app.

  • INTERMISSIONS   There will be two 15-minute intermissions each day. We will have light refreshments available in the lobby during intermissions, free of charge, and you can come and go from the venue if you want to grab something in the area. There is a lot of music on tap, so consider grabbing a bite beforehand if you plan to stay for all of the music. Which you should.

  • ACCESS The venue is ADA compliant. If you have any specific ADA-related questions, please email us at or call (347) 460-2282.

  • PROGRAM NOTES A couple of changes from the original slate: Dianne McIntyre/Pheeroan akLaff will open the festival on Saturday–a tribute to Dolphy’s fiancee at the time of his death, Joyce Mordecai–followed by The New School Dolphy Ensemble. (They originally were slated to perform together.) And we have flipped the order of the last two acts that night. The Dolphy Trio will now precede Reggie Workman’s quartet, which will close the night.

  • VOLUNTEERING   Have time to volunteer at the festival, or at future Seed Artists events?  Please email us at Volunteers make all the difference.


If you are interested in finding out more about Eric Dolphy, it’s easy enough to search your way into a Dolphy rabbit hole online. There isn’t much in the way of video–mostly a handful of Mingus concert videos featuring Dolphy–but the best accounting of what’s out there is the website of Alan Saul, who has done as much as anyone to keep alive the Dolphy flame. This is the Dolphy resource. Includes fine commentary from Alan. This is where you want to start.