Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013-06-03 - Dexter Gordon (USA) - "Major 7ths"

In a Jazz mood late into last night, actually way past "Round Midnight" - needed a  tenor sax fixin', but couldn't immediately find one of my all time favs, Sonny Rollins' 1957 "Way Out West" an album I played almost nonstop when it was re-issued in 1988. 

But the switch was easy, too easy actually and I got lost in a ten hour listening and movie journey.... as there was "Long Tall" Dexter (due to his towering height) Gordon, who not only influenced Rollins as well as among others, Stan Getz and John Coltrane (who later returned the favor). 
Dexter Gordon, who would have turned 90 in February (* 2/27/23), started to play professionally - just as a teenager - first as a sideman in big bands, like Chico Hamilton, Buddy Collette and between 1940 and 1943 as a member of Lionel Hampton's band, sharing the saxophone section with Illinois Jacquet and Marshall Royal and therefore hardly ever soloing. 

Although still playing in other big bands in the coming years, with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and then Billy Eckstine (with a terrific duel with Eugene Ammons on "Blowing The Blues" away), he also started to record under his own name, in smaller combos, so for instance as a twenty year old alongside Nat King Cole and Harry 'Sweets' Edison

After moving to New York - he was originally from Los Angeles - he performed and recorded with Charlie Parker (in Sir Charles Thompson And His All-Stars) and after returning to the west coast with fellow tenorman Wardell Gray (see the "Chase" below)  and under his own name. "Long Tall Dexter" is from a recording session in 1946 with among others Bud Powell on piano. 

"The Chase"

After some run-ins with the law because of drug problems and spending some time in jail in the 50ies, he signed with renowned Jazz label, Blue Note in 1961 and released the debut for that label "Doin' Allright" with Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Horace Parlan (piano) and others. He was able to reestablish himself and to celebrate the first of three comebacks during his career. 

A year later, Gordon decided to move to Europe. Over the next 15 years, he was splitting time between Paris and Copenhagen and became almost forgotten in his homeland. 
(More about Dexter Gordon - in the next blog - 2013-06-04 - Dexter Gordon (USA) - "11ths & 13ths")

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