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The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon

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Album Review

As the title The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon (1960) suggests, the tenor sax master resurfaced from his chronic bouts of addiction in an attempt to revive his on-again/off-again recording career. Truth be told, Gordon was actually on parole from Chino State Penitentiary and co-starring in a local Los Angeles production of The Connection — a play ironically enough about the victims of heroin dependence. Julian "Cannonball" Adderley was able to talk the tenor into participating in a no-strings-attached studio date. Gordon (tenor sax), alongside Martin Banks (trumpet), Richard Boone (trombone), Charles "Dolo" Coker (piano), Charles Green (bass), and Larry Marable (drums) convened under the watchful eyes and ears of legendary producer Wally Heider in mid-October 1960 to document the half-dozen selections featured here. Not surprisingly — especially under the circumstances — Gordon only supplies a third of the contents with the remainder of the excellent material courtesy of pianist Coker. The piercing, penetrating melody of the Gordon-penned "Home Run" gets things underway as the horns' boppin' call-and-response sets the pace for the solos to follow. Coker's contributions are uniformly strong, and the frenetic energy of "Dolo" — the keyboardist's nickname — gives Gordon something substantive to dig into. And he does just that with all the assured litheness that ultimately defined Dexter Gordon's musical phoenix. After reeling off ribbons of sonic inspiration, Coker keeps up with him tickling the 88s with an enviable panache while maintaining the full-throttled pace. The bouncy blues of "Lovely Lisa" and the exotic syncopation fused within "Affair in Havana" place Gordon's sax in prominent proximity to Banks and Boone for a brass-lovers treat. The tunes are complex and provide insight into Gordon's flawless improvisational prowess. Gordon's other composition is the evocative ballad "Jodi." His lines are robust yet retain a moody and searching mystique. The subtleties become more clearly revealed when contrasted to Coker's comparatively personable interlude. "Field Day" closes the effort on a lighthearted and uptempo note. Boone getting his chops in early, followed by Gordon and then the highly underutilized Banks, who saves his best work for the end of the album. All told, The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon uncovers the immeasurable talents of an artist whose musical journey passes a critical crossroads on this project.

Biography

Born: February 27, 1923 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Dexter Gordon had such a colorful and eventful life (with three separate comebacks) that his story would make a great Hollywood movie. The top tenor saxophonist to emerge during the bop era and possessor of his own distinctive sound, Gordon sometimes was long-winded and quoted excessively from other songs, but he created a large body of superior work and could battle nearly anyone successfully at a jam session. His first important gig was with Lionel Hampton (1940-1943) although, due to Illinois...
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