Later, his older sister Peggy was dating the great alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy and introduced Bobby to Dolphy. Bobby would record on Dolphy’s greatest album, Out to Lunch!
Just today, my friend Gene Ess, the brilliant Jazz guitarist, told this story that he had heard from Bobby Hutcherson.
"I’m rehearsing with Eric at his loft — myself, Tony Williams, Richard Davis and a trumpet player named Eddie Armour. We were rehearsing for about an hour and a half. It was a cold, winter day. All of a sudden, right in the middle of the tune, the trumpet player, Eddie, starts cussing and packing up his horn. We get to the end of the tune and Eddie says to Eric, ‘You’re nasty’ And Eric was real sweet, just like Trane was — you know, a real sweet cat. Eric said, ‘What?’ Eddie says, ‘I don’t like you, I don’t like your music, and I’m not going to play this gig. I’m out of here. F you. F this band. That’s it. How do you like that?’
We’re all standing there thinking, ‘My God, how can this cat say this?’ And he continues to put his horn away, clip the fasteners on his trumpet case. He grabs his coat, pulls his hat down and goes stomping to the door. He gets to the door — I mean, just yanks it open. The door hits the wall. Bam! He’s just about to go out the door.
Eric had just been sitting there with his head down. We’re all thinking, ‘Eric must feel horrible. What’s he going to do?’
All of a sudden, Eric says, ‘Hey, Eddie.’ Eddie turns around and says [in growling voice] ‘What?’ Eric, with the most conviction and love, says, ‘If I can ever do anything you need, please don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll be there for you anytime.’
Whoa! And Eric was serious. With that, this cat really got upset — he slammed the door and stormed out. We just stood there all quiet. It was like he Sunday punched him with love. The lesson was, ‘Love conquers all,’ you know? It’s like the devil couldn’t take that love, and this is what Eric was showing him. He went out that door with so much hate, but with a message that Eric still cared about him. This was one of the biggest lessons Eric showed me — that if you can forgive somebody right when they do the most horrible thing they can to you, you just immediately take the weight of what they did off your back and just make it this beautiful experience, so that you can go on and do the things you want to do during the day and not waste time with negative feelings and negative thoughts.
Well, we sat there quiet for two or three minutes — didn’t say anything. Then we went on with rehearsal and we never played so hard in our lives. We were just overcome. Then Eric called Freddie Hubbard, and that’s when we did Out to Lunch!”
Gene’s point in telling the story was that we must realize that we can never let the anger or animosity of another shake us from who we are. Eric Dolphy was not shaken from himself, but remained the calm, kind, loving person he always had been. After the insult from Eddie Armour, Eric called up Freddie Hubbard who was soon to be known as one of the greatest trumpet players ever and they recorded Eric Dolphy’s masterpiece.
And what became of Eddie Armour? No one knows.