Here’s a 1975 interview with Eric Dolphy’s parents, Eric Sr and Sadie Dolphy. The interviewer is Alan Saul and he explains the circumstances of his meeting with the Dolphys on his website. The video is a nice document of these warm and supportive parents, their perspective on their son’s personality, his generosity, his commitment to his church, and his optimism.
There are also a few words about practicing:
12:30 Alan Saul: Do you have any ideas what he would advise people, or what advice he could possibly help people on?
Mrs Dolphy: I think he’d tell them to practice, because that’s all he did (laughs). He would get up in the morning before he went to school, say about 4:30 or 5, and practice until it’s almost time to get his breakfast and leave for school. And he’d hurry home to start practicing again, until very late in the evening….
13:19 Alan Saul: Did he mostly just practice scales and exercises?
Mrs Dolphy: Yes, and tone quality. He’d blow one note all day long.
Mr Dolphy: I seen him blow one note on the saxophone for weeks at a time. And I’d be out in the yard working, and I’d go in and say, “There’s no more keys on the saxophone but that one note?” And he’d play and he’d put it on his tape recorder, and he’d listen to it and say, “Dad, it’s got to be right.” And I’d say, “It sounds right to me,” and he’d say, “It’s not right yet.”
Much more Dolphy info at Saul’s website.