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Lay for the Day
20th June

The multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was born in Los Angeles on this day in 1938. (See also the Lay for 22nd April, the birthday of Charles Mingus, which celebrates their musical partnership, and for 6th November, the birthday of Adolphe Sax, who created the bass clarinet.)
From the book of Praises:

63. Of Eric Dolphy

The love of her life was music, of which
she heard but little, apart from the drop
of water, cheep of birds who came to drink,
the high song of mosquitoes above it.

One day, inspired, she left her native place
and went on a long, hazardous journey
by inhospitable roads, crowded trains,
unhygienic ships and expensive cabs

to a place where the press of feet menaced
and the noise and dirt and haste oppressed her.
There, in a smoky and underlit joint,
where her green home seemed a million miles off,

she found what she longed to hear, late one night,
played on, of all things, a bass clarinet.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


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