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Bouncin' With Dex

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Album Review

Dexter Gordon thrived on the attention of European jazz fans while living there during the 1960s and early '70s, while he also had a wealth of opportunities to record for labels on the continent. This 1975 session for Steeplechase, one of a dozen he made as a leader for the label in the mid-'70s, finds him in top form, accompanied by pianist Tete Montoliu, along with frequent collaborators Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass and drummer Billy Higgins. Gordon's big tone carries the brisk treatment of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," though he inserts a few humorous quotes into his solo as well. Two versions of the standard "Easy Living" are played at a loping tempo in a heartfelt manner, though the master is a tad better in its execution. The familiar bop vehicle "Four" (usually credited to Miles Davis, though this CD acknowledges Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson as its more likely composer) explodes in a furious performance. Gordon wrote the Latin-flavored "Catalonian Nights" especially for Montoliu, while the tenorist's "Benji's Bounce" is a lively, thinly disguised reworking of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-Ning" (which is itself based on the changes to "I Got Rhythm").


Born: 27 February 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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