Today was Dolphy Day. What’s Dolphy Day, you ask?
It’s a day is celebrated annually on the campus of Le Moyne College in the Syracuse suburb of Dewitt, NY.
Hundreds of students took off classes to celebrate the first warm weather day after a long, rough winter. Central New York winters can be fierce with its Lake Effect snow storms, so this day is much anticipated by Le Moyne students.
Each year, a student — called The Wizard — chooses the day, typically the first warm spring day of April, and students hang out together, listen to music and play games.
According to the college’s website, the day started in the spring of 1971 as a spontaneous celebration. That year the celebrations included decorating trees with toilet paper, cutting classes and hanging out in the quad.
Eric Dolphy – a world-class jazz musician who died at the age of 36 in 1964 — was selected as a namesake for the celebration, according to college historian Jonathan Langdon.
On this day, students played lacrosse and volleyball and tossed Frisbees on the college’s quad. Others jumped on inflatable play structures brought in for the day. Student bands provided the music.
This year, the college put up a statue honoring Eric Dolphy and its 40th anniversary celebration.
I doubt if any college students know who Eric Dolphy is or even heard his music. Before his tragic death, he recorded “Out to Lunch!” with Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis and Tony Williams.
Here’s a sample of the legendary saxophonist in action recorded live in Berlin from 1961.
Check out Eric Dolphy and other jazz greats this Jazz Appreciation Month!